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Max Holloway wants Khabib Nurmagomedov over Conor McGregor - ‘To be the best you got to beat the best’

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UFC 218: Holloway v Aldo Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Like most Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) titleholders, featherweight champion Max Holloway is trying to make the most out of his current reign at 145 pounds. That includes potential superfights outside of the division.

Thank this guy for setting that trend.

At just 26 years of age, Hollloway has an extremely bright future. The confident Hawaiian is coming off back-to-back knockout victories over featherweight legend Jose Aldo and is close to defending his title opposite rising contender Brian Ortega later this year. If Holloway is able to get past “T-City” then he could be making a move up to 155 pounds.

While most fight fans think Holloway will lobby for a rematch with current UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor and score the biggest payday of his career, “Blessed” is looking in another direction. Instead of “Notorious,” Holloway would rather test his skills against undefeated Russian title contender Khabib Nurmagomedov and see if he’s one of the very best fighters on the plnet.

“You know, everybody keep talking about me and a guy too. That Irish man [Conor McGregor],” Holloway said in a recenter interview with Mike Finch of Cage Fanatic. “Everybody want to see us run that back, everybody seems to not be talking about Khabib [Nurmagomedov]. I want Khabib. You know, to be the best you got to beat the best and one of those guys is Khabib. A lot of guys draw Tony [Ferguson]’s name. I remember Tony saying that he wanted to come down to 145-pounds, but they all can stay up there. Stay at 155-pounds, no excuses, let me come up and let me fight. I’m a big boy and we can go up. And 170-pounds ain’t so far after that.”

While welterweight is a long stretch for a rangy fighter like Holloway, lightweight is certainly an option. After all, the UFC featherweight king enjoys eating so much that a move up in weight would be a welcomed sight.

“I’m a Samoan, I’m Hawaiian, I’m Polynesian. I love eating food,” said Holloway. “You guys know I love cupcakes. I’m going to put my weight on and we’ll see what happens. No one’s safe. No one’s safe. I’m willing. I’m ready to go. After this injury we’ll get back to it at 145-pounds and we’ll go from there. That’s the beauty [of how I’d stop the pressure and takedowns of Nurmagomedov], we don’t know until we get in there. I have an idea. We all can have an idea. Everybody can say this, and this, and that, but once you get locked into those cages, it’s a different feeling. So, you guy’s gotta wait and see. Just like anything else, you guy’s gotta wait and see.”

On paper, Nurmagomedov is a bad matchup for Holloway. The Russian fighter has amassed an unscathed 25-0 record while dominating promotional veterans like Rafael dos Anjos, Edson Barboza, and Michael Johnson with ferocious ground-and-pound and grappling. But that doesn’t mean Holloway wouldn’t be able to jump in weight and pull off the upset.

Before any of that happens, though, Holloway must defend his title against the only man to ever finish Frankie Edgar and Khabib must capture his first UFC championship when he takes on interim lightweight king Tony Ferguson at UFC 223 on April 7.