Mixed Martial Arts-Holloway's "BMF" knockout cements UFC's dominant position

Apr 13, 2024; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Max Holloway (blue gloves) fights Justin Gaethje (red gloves) during UFC 300 at T-Mobile Arena. Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo

(Reuters) - Max Holloway's epic knockout of Justin Gaethje with just one second left on the clock in Las Vegas on Saturday again cemented the Ultimate Fighting Championship's (UFC) status as the dominant player in mixed martial arts, despite some strong challenges from competitors.

The fact that the title on the line -- the "BMF" or "baddest m***********" belt -- at UFC 300 was simply an invention to pit fan favourites against each another in violent brawls does not take away from the moment; arguably, it adds to it.

"This is the moment, this is what BMFs is known for -- if that's not a BMF moment, I don't know what is," Holloway, who was leading on the judges' scorecards when he called Gaethje to stand toe to toe for a final showdown, told reporters.

"Tonight totally embodied what that belt was built for and there should be a picture of that fight in the dictionary when you look up 'BMF'," Dana White, UFC president, beamed as he addressed the media after the card.

With the clock ticking down in the fifth and final round, Hawaiian Holloway pointed to the centre of the cage and invited Gaethje to meet him there, and the two unleashed flurries of punches until Gaethje suddenly folded like a poolside deckchair at one of the Strip's famous hotels, knocked out cold.

Staging the 300th major fight card in its history, the UFC delivered on its promise of a night of unforgettable fights, with Alex Pereira and Zhang Weili retaining their respective titles, but it was Holloway who stole the headlines.

The Professional Fighters League, which utilises a unique format of a regular season and playoffs, has recently made major moves, purchasing UFC rival Bellator and staging a card of its own on Friday in Vegas.

Whatever shine the PFL managed to take from the UFC soon disappeared as, less than 24 hours later, their former champion and biggest star Kayla Harrison made her UFC debut with a resounding submission win over Holly Holm.

The greatest obstacle facing the PFL as they seek to compete is that the history of the UFC is effectively the history of MMA, and they have the resources, the roster and the brand recognition needed to continue to dominate the sport.

"When you have a night that looked like the greatest in combat sports history on paper, and then it absolutely delivers, it's the best," White said.

(Reporting by Philip O'Connor; editing by Clare Fallon)

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