TORONTO — Due to a trio of aborted attempts to get in the cage, Max Holloway’s next weigh-in will be packed with suspense. After defeating the legendary Jose Aldo twice in 2017, it looked like “Blessed” was poised for a massive 2018, but he saw three high-profile title fights fall through.
In March, Holloway was scheduled to defend his featherweight title against Frankie Edgar, but a leg injury forced Holloway to withdraw. Less than a month later, he was announced as a late-notice replacement for Tony Ferguson to face Khabib Nurmagomedov in a lightweight championship fight at UFC 223 in Brooklyn. Unfortunately for Holloway, the New York State Athletic Commission ruled him out of the contest due to it being unsafe for him to make the 155-pound limit during fight week.
Lastly, he was expected to defend his belt against Brian Ortega at UFC 226 in July, only to see that booking fall through days out from fight night due to “concussion-like symptoms” that have been scrutinized in the months since.
Holloway is now scheduled fight Ortega at UFC 231 at Scotiabank Arena on Saturday, but questions around his preparation have persisted. Ortega himself has expressed doubt over whether Holloway will make it to the Octagon on Saturday or if he’ll end up facing designated understudy Renato Moicano instead.
When this sentiment was presented to Holloway at Thursday’s open workouts, the champion shrugged them off and focused on how he will hold up his end of the bargain.
“Shit happens,” Holloway said. “I don’t know. Whatever mindset, whatever he says, that’s him, no control over what he can say. At the end of the day, I’ll show up. We’ll see what happens when I show up and we meet in the Octagon. I can’t wait to see it.”
According to Holloway, he’s “very close” to making weight, though he could not provide a more specific estimate. Pressed on the matter, Holloway made sure to point out that he’s never officially failed to beat the scale on weigh-in day, despite speculation that his issues at UFC 226 may have been tied to a bad weight cut.
“I never missed weight,” Holloway said. “Everybody keeps talking about this weight thing, and blah blah blah. Have I ever stepped on the scale and missed weight? That answers your own question.”
Holloway is only eight months removed from nearly challenging for the 155-pound title and given the concerns about his weight it seems reasonable that the 27-year-old Hawaiian would consider moving up a division. The second defense of his featherweight title is his priority, but Holloway has spoken with UFC president Dana White about where his future might lie in the promotion.
He jokingly mentioned that he could be looking beyond the lightweight division.
“We talked a little bit about it,” Holloway said. “Not too much, not too crazy, you know? At the end of the day, I’m a champion. I’m a champion. I wanted to be a defending champion, now I want to be a pound-for-pound champion.
“If it’s going up a weight class, then it’s going up; if it’s staying here and defending my belt a couple of times, it’s staying here; if it’s fighting my good friend [Daniel Cormier], ‘The Kung Fu Panda’, ‘The Daddest Man on the Planet’, so be it. I want to be the best ever.”
Win or lose, does Holloway see this as possibly being his last fight at featherweight?
“Not a shot,” Holloway said emphatically.