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Max Holloway says he came within ‘striking distance’ of making weight for UFC 223

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Max Holloway believes he would have made weight for UFC 223 if the New York State Athletic Commission didn’t pull him from the Brooklyn event on Friday morning.

Holloway stepped up to fight for the UFC lightweight title against Khabib Nurmagomedov on six days’ notice following Tony Ferguson’s withdrawal from the event. During the Friday’s official weigh-ins, it was announced that the Hawaiian would not be medically cleared to compete.

The featherweight champion refused to disclose how much he weighed when he accepted the fight, but suggested that he was above 180 pounds at the time.

“I was huge,” Holloway told Ariel Helwani on the latest episode of The MMA Hour.

“Maybe,” he replied, when asked if he was above 180 pounds when he took the fight. When he was asked if he was over 190 pounds, he indicated that he wasn’t.

“Nah…maybe…I don’t know,” he said, correcting himself. “It’s a secret. I’ll keep people guessing, but we were hitting the right numbers. Everything was coming good; everything was coming right.”

“Blessed” revealed that he his vitals were checked on numerous occasions beginning on Thursday and ending while he was in the “final push” to make the 155-pound limit.

“[Doctors] checked me on the morning of the weight cut on Thursday. And before media day they checked me and then they kept checking me. We were cutting weight and every time we were cutting they were coming in, coming in and coming in,” he said.

“The last real push, they came in and checked and they called it. Depressing sh*t, man. It’s pretty sad, but it is what it is. These things happen.”

He claimed that he was under 159 pounds when the fight was scrapped and insisted that he would have got down to the required weight if he hadn’t been forced to stop cutting.

“We got a little bit under [159 pounds]. We were close, we were in striking distance for sure,” Holloway recalled.

“I think I would have [made weight]. I don’t know about safely, it’s a weight cut, but I had the game for doing it. We were doing it with [George] Lockhart. I have the utmost respect for Lockhart and Tyler Minton. This week they gave me their all. I got nothing but love for them and my coaches.

“On six days I got the fight. Eight hours later, me and my coaches are on an airplane to New York. You find out who your real ones are this week and it was a good one.”

Although he acknowledged that the weight cut was harder than most, he never thought making weight was unachievable.

“I never thought it was going to be impossible. It never once crossed my mind. It was harder than most [cuts] for sure. But I was just bigger, that’s it. I had a little bit more body fat on me than I usually do. It was just new experiences. It was nothing crazy,” he said.

“I wasn’t thinking, ‘Oh, I’m going to die!’ or things like that — never ever. This is part of the game, it was just harder than most [weight cuts]. We took the challenge knowing the consequences. We went out there and we did the damn thing.

“We got stopped, we got pulled and the sh*t hurts. It’s been a hurtful year for me so far. I’d never pulled out of a fight in my life and then I got two pulled on me, two big ones too. It’s a tough pill to swallow right now.”

Holloway insisted that he has no issues with the New York State Athletic Commission for pulling him from the card and hopes to compete in Madison Square Garden before the end of the year.