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What’s Next for Max Holloway After Pulling Out of UFC 226?

The
The "Blessed Era" just started. Is it over already? Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. James K. McCann (Wikimedia Commons) [CC License]
  • UFC 226 is in turmoil after scraping the co-main event
  • Max Holloway was admitted to the ER and forced off the card due to concussion-like symptoms
  • Questions loom over Blessed’s future and whether he can continue fighting

The International Fight Week curse continues.

This time it’s the co-headliner that has fallen through. Featherweight champ Max Holloway was pulled from UFC 226 after displaying concussion-like symptoms, and his condition remains shrouded in mystery.

At just 26 years old, Blessed should have a long career ahead of him, but some are already fearing the worst. He’s fought 18 times in the UFC over just six years, and his aggressive fighting style isn’t exactly tailored for longevity. Especially in his last two fights against former champ Jose Aldo, Holloway sustained a ridiculous amount of damage that may have significantly shortened his career.

Holloway has fought 18 times in the UFC over just six years, and his aggressive fighting style isn’t exactly tailored for longevity.

This is the third consecutive fight he’s had to withdraw from. First a leg injury, then a disastrous weight cut, and now brain trauma. Holloway is accustomed to fighting four times a year, but he’s yet to step into the octagon in 2018.

UFC boss Dana White has ruled out the possibility of Holloway fighting “anytime soon.” Whether that’s a month, two months, or a year — we just don’t know.

Prop Odds
Odds Max Holloway Retires from MMA in 2018 5/1

Holloway’s bravado is what makes him one of the biggest names in MMA, but it could also be his undoing. The young champ will never turn down a fight and always puts on a show, often at the expense of his own well-being.

Holloway’s bravado is what makes him one of the biggest names in MMA, but it could also be his undoing.

Being a volume striker without one-punch power, he’s often forced to stand in range with his opponents, eating a shot in order to dish one out. His fighting style relies heavily on his iron chin, and we know all too well how that can catch up to a fighter.

His two fights against José Aldo saw him enduring strikes that would have finished almost any other featherweight. Aldo was able to land flying knees, looping uppercuts, and wild over-hands flush on Holloway’s jaw. An overweight Anthony Pettis forced him into an all-out brawl that almost lasted three rounds. Before that, Ricardo Lamas had ten seconds to work him like a heavy bag.

And that’s just the last two years!

The damage we’ve seen Holloway endure may just be the tip of the iceberg.  We don’t know about the sparring wars he’s been through or the vicious camps where the 5’11” Hawaiian reduced himself to 145 lbs.

The 26-year-old has had 22 professional MMA fights, 18 of which were at the UFC where he fought some of the most dangerous featherweights of all time. In fight years, Holloway is already a veteran.

Prop O/U Date
Over/Under on Holloway’s Next Fight Date November 2, 2018

There are rumors that Holloway vs Ortega may be moved to UFC 227, which is just a month away. That seems way too soon. Even if Holloway only suffered a minor injury during training, he’ll need at least a month to recover.

UFC 228 (September 8th) and UFC 229 (October 6th) are also options for a Holloway comeback. Neither have a main event booked, so if Holloway is fit and ready, they’re his to headline. If he needs more time to recover, UFC 230 (November 3rd) at Madison Square Garden would be a sensational way to stage a return.

Odds to be Max Holloway’s Next Opponent

Fighter Odds
Brian Ortega 3/7
Frankie Edgar 10/1
Jeremy Stephens 20/1
Khabib Nurmagomedov 25/1
Conor McGregor 40/1

Max Holloway vs Brian Ortega is the biggest fight available at featherweight. It’s the champ against the top contender. It’s one young, exciting fighter against another. It’s two extremely marketable fighters squaring off. Ortega refused to take a replacement fight at UFC 226, opting instead to wait for the champ to return.

If Holloway is sidelined for too long, the UFC may offer up an interim title to keep the division flowing. That would open the door for Frankie Edgar and Jeremy Stephens. Edgar was booked to fight Holloway at UFC 222, but the champ withdrew due to a leg injury. Stephens has already fought Holloway and was thoroughly outclassed.

There are rumors that Holloway vs Ortega may be moved to UFC 227, which is just a month away.

Khabib Nurmagomedov and Holloway were booked to fight at UFC 223 for a double-champ showdown at lightweight. Holloway agreed to the fight on short notice but was forced to withdraw due to the excessive weight cut. It was a fight that garnered a lot of attention, and perhaps the UFC will try to book it again.

And then there’s Conor McGregor. Notorious and Blessed fought back in 2013, with McGregor getting the better of Holloway over three rounds. A lot has changed since then. Perhaps a rematch is on the cards.

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