Max 'Blessed' Holloway put on another outstanding performance on Saturday night in California when he met fellow top featherweight contender Ricardo Lamas on the event's main card.
He put an exclamation point on the performance when he urged Lamas into the exchanges in the final ten seconds of the contest. Bringing the crowd in the Forum to their feet as they winged haymakers at each other until the final bell sounded, Holloway underlined his intentions to put on exciting bouts for the fans.
With the concise decision win over Lamas, the Hawaiian has extended winning streak to nine, which puts him in the company of some of the greatest fighters in the history of not only UFC but the sport in general. Yet, with the current situation at featherweight, Holloway's chances of gaining a championship date seem pretty slim at the moment.
Holloway joined Chris Weidman and Junior Dos Santos, two former promotional champions, by making it nine wins on the trot under the UFC banner on Saturday night. One of the pound-for-pound greats of the sport, Demetrious 'Mighty Mouse' Johnson weighs in with one more consecutive UFC victory than 'Blessed', with ten.
One of the pioneers of the sport, Royce Gracie, has taken eleven wins in a row with UFC dating back to the tournament days where fighters took on several opponents in one day. Three of the men who are the subject of many debates as to who is the greatest proponent of the sport ever hold more consecutive wins than Gracie.
Georges 'Rush' St-Pierre has claimed 12 back-to-back wins with UFC. Jon 'Bones' Jones has taken 13 in a row. Unsurprisingly, the man who holds the record for consecutive wins with UFC is Anderson 'The Spider' Silva, with 16.
Holloway's lofty feat undoubtedly deserves a title shot, but with the divisional champion pursuing bouts in new weight divisions, it makes it difficult to predict when he will get a shot. Adding to that, Frankie Edgar and Jose Aldo will contest for the interim title at UFC 200.
'Blessed' is currently ranked third by UFC, with all fighters ahead of him the promotional standings booked for tests, it unlikely that sitting out and waiting for his championship date will help the Hawaiian.
The Waiting Game
At UFC 199's post-fight press conference, Holloway seemed resigned to the fact that he will have to fight at least one more time before he makes it to a championship date.
"The interim belt is at 200, and now we've got Conor fighting at 170," said Holloway. "We'll see what happens. If I've got to go for 10 (wins in a row), I'll go for 10."
With McGregor set for his rematch with Nate Diaz at UFC 202 on August 20, it is unknown as to when he will face the winner of Frankie Edgar and Jose Aldo that will come out of their meeting on July 9.
Another thing that needs to be factored in is the options that will open up to McGregor if he does manage to topple the Stockton cult icon in the T-Mobile Arena. Dana White told the MMA universe that a win over Diaz in their first meeting back in March could possibly result in a meeting with welterweight champion Robbie Lawler.
To add to that, a "Champion versus Champion" bout had already been put in place between McGregor and Rafael Dos Anjos. Even though the Brazilian was forced from his first bout with 'The Notorious', there are a lot of people suggesting that the Irishman would be bettered suited to moving to the 155 lbs ranks than dropping back down to featherweight.
Unless McGregor vacates the title, it is unlikely that Holloway would get a shot at the featherweight title until next year. Yet, staying on the shelf will only obscure him from the title conversation.
Holloway has cleared out the division to a certain extent, but Chad Mendes, who currently sits one place below the Hawaiian in the official rankings, is one man that has yet to be pitted against 'Blessed'.
Having fought for the divisional strap on a number of occasions, Mendes would be another significant scalp for Holloway. Despite being stopped by strikes in his last two outings against Edgar and McGregor, his skillset still would pose threats to the surging 24-year-old.
As well as that, Mendes will want to re-establish himself as a title contender in the 145 lbs bracket more than anything. Given Holloway's elevated status on the back of his win streak, there may be no better man for the Team Alpha Male proponent to face. A victory for Mendes would underline his status as a perennial title contender.
The more victories Holloway clocks up, the more undeniable he will become in the 145 lbs championship fray. Given his form of late, he will be more confident than ever that he can overcome any challenge that is put in front of him.