After a year beset by problems, Max Holloway finally stepped back into the cage at UFC 231 last night (Sat., Dec. 8, 2018), reminding everyone the reason(s) he’s the king of Featherweight king. But, his thrilling victory over dangerous challenger Brian Ortega (watch the highlights here) hasn’t stopped UFC President Dana White from continuing his campaign to have Holloway move up to Lightweight.
Before the fight, White’s argument centered around the Hawaiian being too big to keep fighting at 145. But after a problem free cut and that stellar performance, Dana is now taking a different tack.
”I would love to see him go to 155,” he told reporters at a post-event scrum. “At this point in his career you gotta start talking about him as one of the all time greats, and I think there’s a lot of big money fights for him at 155 and a lot of big things. Every one of those fights at 155, if you start at #5 and work your way up to the champion, they’re all good fights for Holloway.”
While the ever-agreeable Holloway sounded open to whatever UFC wanted, his wants certainly involved continuing to defend the 145-pound title.
“When a king leaves a throne and his village, someone ties to come and invade,” Max said during his turn with the scrum. “So I’m here to stay. I’m here to stay, this was the easiest weight cut of my life. We’ll see what happens though. I keep hearing the boss, this guy keeps talking to the media before me, he keeps saying we’re talking about 155. Sometimes you can’t get what you want. He’s the boss and if he wants me up, so be it. We’ll go up there. But I want to defend. But there’s a lot of interesting fights for me at 155, for sure.”
At the official post-fight press conference, Holloway expanded on the sudden hype to get him fighting at lightweight.
”Dana White is the boss. The boss is looking for superfights,” he said. “All the UFC guys, you guys, you guys be talking about me fighting at 155 for superfights. I keep hearing the names Conor, Khabib. At the end of the day, they got something to figure out. ... So best of luck to them, and we can sit down with Dana and figure it out.”
As usual, Holloway didn’t seem too picky. Tony Ferguson came up as a possibility, and Max sounded more than all right with the idea.
”Hey, that’s a fun fight,” he said. “You guys watched Embedded, somebody called me Tony ... so I got a bone to pick.”
”I’d love to fight him,” he told ESPN’s Ariel Helwani soon after. “He’s a legend in the sport and he had his chance, his chance was taken away from him. If he comes back, hopefully he can come back from his injury, I’d love to fight him. He’s one of the greats, I don’t know why people keep talking him down.”
It’s funny that UFC finally has another champion happy to defend against whoever, whenever, and it wants him to drop the belt. We do have to admit: the Featherweight contender pool is looking pretty decimated at the moment. So why not let Max dally with 155 and return to defend when another challenger has built his case?