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Max Holloway’s greatest win of 2018 was over depression

Coming into his lone fight of 2018, Holloway wasn’t just battling the dangerous Brian Ortega, but all the doubts and depression that comes with a career in crisis.

We’re just a few days removed from Max Holloway vs. Dustin Poirier for the interim lightweight title at UFC 236 this weekend (Sat., April 13, 2019), possibly the best fight of the year despite the interim designation. That’s because this is a fight that doesn’t need a fake temporary belt. Holloway has already established himself as a legit UFC Featherweight champion. Now, he moves up to 155 pounds to face Dustin Poirier, who holds a win over “Blessed” from back in 2012.

And while Holloway is undoubtedly focused on his new Lightweight future and the tough challenges that await him, he’s also feeling extremely “Blessed” to even still be fighting. Three fights in a row fell apart for him in 2018, and before his triumphant return win over Ortega, many were questioning if his career might be over. In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Holloway admits he was wondering the same thing.

”Man, the last fight [against Brian Ortega at UFC 231] was emotional,” Holloway said. “The year leading up to that, I had a bunch of fights fall through, had a little depression. I was fighting somewhat of depression. It was just crazy to have the fight like that.”

”The last year, part of my career, three fights that got pulled from me,” he explained. “I got hurt. I got hurt. After that, doctors pulled me twice. It goes from a guy, I’m so used to fighting two to four times a year to only fighting one time a year now. I had no control or say in it. After that stuff that happened, I was thinking like, ‘Man, what if I don’t ever fight again?’ That’s what led into it.”

But, in the end, what didn’t kill him made him stronger.

”I got to figure out other things in my life and do stuff,” Holloway said. “It was amazing. It was an amazing year. I grew a lot as a person ... A true champion is not a guy who goes up there and can do champion stuff.”

“A true champion is someone who can hit rock bottom, come back up. This fight, April 13, next week, with Dustin, me and him, we had the highs, the lows that are lows in this sport, highs that are highs. Now we’re back at the highs of the highs, be able to fight for the 155 gold, one of the most dangerous divisions.”

If you’re not already hyped for this fight, scroll up the page and re-watch the first fight between Holloway and Poirier. Now, consider how much better they’ve become in the past seven years. UFC 236 is going to be an absolute stormer. Just remember to give yourself a little bit of extra time to jump the new ESPN+ subscription hurdle you have to make before you’re able to order it.

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