Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) featherweight champion, Max Holloway, had a pretty rough 2018. After being pulled from his UFC 223 showdown against Khabib Nurmagomedov, thanks to the nervous Nellies over at New York State Athletic Commission, the Hawaiian was benched for a second straight time when he returned to defend his 145-pound strap against Brian Ortega in July.
The first incident was easy to explain. The commission believed “Blessed” shed too much weight and to continue his “brutal” cut would have jeopardized his health. As for his subsequent issue ... well, that’s where things start to get a little fuzzy. At the time, his condition was believed to be “concussion-like symptoms,” which is not surprising when you watch this video.
As you might expect, Holloway was subjected to a battery of tests, none of which yielded conclusive results. The Ontario Athletic Commission, as well as UFC, appear satisfied with what they’ve seen thus far, which is why the champ has been cleared for his Brian Ortega title defense next month in Toronto.
That doesn’t mean what transpired last July is water under the bridge. In fact, Holloway is involved in an “ongoing investigation” and specifically mentioned the city of Las Vegas, so I’m assuming that what happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas.
“We’ve got an ongoing investigation, so I’ve been told not to comment on everything yet,” Holloway told ESPN. “That fight week in July, something went wrong after my first meal about eight days out. We gave it a couple days, but it just got worse. I hadn’t even started cutting weight. I was actually eating 2,500 calories a day. My kidneys showed it wasn’t related to weight cutting -- and if it was, I’m pretty sure the UFC would restrict me. And the UFC doctor said my scans showed it wasn’t a concussion. My team actually did a [toxicology] screen and, hey, Vegas is a crazy place. That’s all I can really say about it right now.”
Was he the victim of food poisoning? Did someone in “T-City” slip him a Mickey?
While it’s difficult to speculate in lieu of the facts, longtime veteran Diego Sanchez once talked about not being himself after consuming beef tartare and raw quail egg, and we also have former champion Jon Jones telling UFC fans he’s afraid of getting sabotaged by a bus boy with a grudge.
The elephant in the room, of course, is Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). The most frustrating part about the disease, aside from its complexity, is that it can only be diagnosed post-mortem.
Holloway is just 26 years old but has already accumulated 22 professional fights. In his last two appearances, which both ended in stoppage victories over ex-champion Jose Aldo, “Blessed” absorbed over 100 significant strikes to the head.
Simply put, the sooner we can get some answers as to what happened last summer, the easier we’ll rest. Maybe. Or maybe we can just stage a walk out (like this former fan). Until then, the UFC 231 main event remains set for Dec. 8.