UFC 206 lost its original main event after light heavyweight champ Daniel Cormier pulled out of the event with an injury. Good thing UFC 206 already had a marquee featherweight bout as co-main event. That featherweight scrap is now promoted to main event status, and it may even turn out to be a better fight than Cormier vs. Johnson.

Interim Title Bout

With Conor McGregor relinquishing (or getting stripped, whichever you want to believe) the title he won with his 13-second destruction of Jose Aldo last year, the UFC has promoted the Max Holloway – Anthony Pettis showdown to an interim title bout. And for Max Holloway, it’s getting the title shot that he’s earned through the years.

After starting his UFC career with a modest 3-3 record, Holloway has blossomed into one of the most dangerous fighters in the UFC’s 145-pound weight class. Since losing to Conor McGregor in 2013, Holloway has racked up an impressive 9-consecutive wins to become the division’s 2nd ranked contender. During this winning run, “Blessed” has beaten Top 10 contenders Cub Swanson, Charles Oliveira and Jeremy Stephens.

Second Lease on Life

Anthony Pettis, meanwhile, has found a new lease on his UFC life at a new weight class. Following three straight losses to Rafael Dos Anjos, Eddie Alvarez and Edson Barboza, “Showtime” bounced back with an impressive 3rd round submission win in featherweight debut against submission master Charles Oliveira. The win immediately put Pettis at #5 in the UFC’s official Featherweight rankings and put him in a position to fight for the title.

The stakes are high for this bout, as the winner will face newly promoted champion Jose Aldo for the undisputed UFC Featherweight title sometime in the near future. And if you’re looking for a dog fight, it can’t get any better than this.

Blessed Over Showtime

Holloway opened as a -185 favorite against Pettis’ +145 when the betting lines for this bout opened. As of the latest UFC 206 odds (12.2.16), Pettis has narrowed the gap at +130 for him and -160 for Holloway. The odds are -160 that this fight goes the distance while it’s +160 that it doesn’t. These make Pettis-Holloway a tough fight to fight to predict, but it’s definitely going to be a exciting striking battle between two of the sport’s premier strikers.

Pettis has excellent Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Taekwondo background. He is good with his hands as he is with his feet. His unique and uncanny striking ability makes him an exciting fighter to watch. Holloway too is adept on his feet. Blessed knows how to pick his shots and when he lands, he does so cleanly and effectively. Just watch his UFC 199 bout against Ricardo Lamas and you can see how good Holloway has become. With both fighters preferring to fight on their feet, this could end up as one of the better fights of the year.

Pettis has a three inch reach advantage while Holloway is an inch taller and four year younger. Offensively, Holloway lands 3.07 more strikes lander per minute but absorbs 1.36 more per 60 seconds. Pettis’ 57% striking defense may be too lax against a surging Holloway. Pettis looked good against Barboza in his featherweight debut but we don’t know what the long term effects of the weight class drop would be. Holloway’s been at featherweight forever and he will be more effective in a five round war. We’re picking Max Holloway to win by unanimous decision or late stoppage.

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