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Dana White: Max Holloway diagnosis unclear, ‘no way’ he fights anytime soon

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UFC 218 OPEN WORKOUTS
Max Holloway
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Regarding Max Holloway’s health, UFC president Dana White is as in the dark as everyone else.

Saturday’s UFC 226 pay-per-view saw a major shakeup when Holloway was removed from the co-main event after being hospitalized due to concussion-like symptoms earlier this week in Las Vegas. He was scheduled to defend his featherweight championship against Brian Ortega.

White has spoken to UFC vice president of health and performance Jeff Novitzky and neither of them have been able to get an answer yet on exactly what is wrong with Holloway.

“It’s a weird situation,” White said at a press conference for UFC 226 on Thursday. “I was talking to Jeff Novitzky in the back and there’s a couple of different — some people think it’s concussion-related and some people think it’s weight cut-related, so they haven’t really got down to the bottom of what it is. But according to him he feels fine but obviously he’s not fine. So we’re going to continue to try to figure out what’s wrong with Max Holloway.

“In the meantime, there’s no way that this guy is going to fight anytime soon.”

It has been a brutal year for Holloway, who has now seen three fight bookings fall through for various reasons. In March, a leg injury forced him out of a title defense vs. Frankie Edgar at UFC 222. A month later, Holloway volunteered to step in as a short-notice replacement for an injured Tony Ferguson to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov in a lightweight title bout at UFC 223, but the New York State Athletic Commission ruled that Holloway couldn’t safely make the weight.

And now, mysterious concussion-like symptoms have cost him another opportunity and potentially put his future in jeopardy. White is prepared to go to any length to make sure that Holloway gets the medical attention he needs.

“We’re running him through every test there is. … He needs go to the Mayo Clinic or one of these types of places and do a full — yes, we will take care of Max Holloway and he’ll go through every type of testing there is until we can figure out what’s wrong with him,” White said.

The withdrawal left Ortega without an opponent and White was asked how close officials were to keeping the top contender on Saturday’s card. White confirmed that veteran Jeremy Stephens is still ready to step in on short notice, but for now it has been decided that Ortega will not be competing at UFC 226.

“Literally, Jeremy Stephens will not stop blowing me up, he wants this fight so bad, he said he’ll take it on short notice,” White said. “He’s cutting weight already with the hopes that Ortega will accept the fight. Ortega has turned down the fight, so I don’t know. We’ll see what happens.”

White added that Frankie Edgar also volunteered to take the fight, but the former UFC lightweight champion’s family nixed that idea.

In the future, White isn’t sure what can be done to prevent these catastrophes that seem to arise with almost every UFC event these days. As with any sport, and especially one as volatile as MMA, sometimes the fate of an athlete is out of anyone’s hands regardless of what precautions are taken.

“It’s impossible,” White said. “It’s impossible to ensure what happened to Holloway doesn’t happen. Listen, you’re dealing with human beings. People get sick, things happen, it’s unfortunate, but it happens. There’s nothing we can do about it.

“We’ve done everything you could possibly try to do to make these guys healthier, to give them a safer place to train, eat the right foods, we have a restaurant at the PI where they can eat for free and we’ve done everything that we can possibly do to try and limit this.”