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Max Holloway couldn’t turn down opportunity to face ‘animal’ Khabib Nurmagomedov

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Max Holloway didn’t hesitate when the UFC called him on six days’ notice to step in for the injured Tony Ferguson.

The UFC featherweight champion will be taking Ferguson’s main event slot at UFC 223 against Khabib Nurmagomedov to decide the UFC’s lightweight championship.

Speaking at Honolulu International Airport after the news had broken, “Blessed” insisted that an opportunity to face the undefeated Russian was too good to turn down.

“April Fools! Nah, I’m just joking,” Holloway told KHON News, reacting to his short notice call-up to face Khabib Nurmagomedov in the main event of UFC 223.

“My manager called me. He said, ‘Tony’s hurt’ and ‘they want you and Khabib’. I was like…how do you turn down an opportunity like this? Opportunities like this come once in a lifetime and there was really only one guy was able to do it. I’m glad to be the second guy and I’m going to go out there and make history.”

Holloway suggested he would return to featherweight in the future and underlined that UFC made the right decision to seek him out as Ferguson’s replacement.

“I’m here to fight man. I’m not a matchmaker. I’ve got business to handle at 145. But I said, when the UFC call, I’m only one call away. They called the right guy. I’m here, six days’ notice — April 7 is going to be a great night,” he said.

He also lauded Nurmagomedov while insisting that he was looking forward to seeing who the better fighter is on Saturday night in Brookyln.

“Animal,” Holloway replied when asked what he thought of Nurmagomedov.

“You know what they say, ‘to beat the best you’ve got to be the best’, and the best is Blessed, baby. I can’t wait. This guy’s one of the most feared guys, I don’t know why. We’re all fighters, we all train. He’s human, I’m human and we get to go out there and see who is better.”