Max Holloway has heard it all before.
Heading into the 27th fight of his UFC career — and coming off of just his fourth loss in the past decade — Holloway was at risk of losing his spot in the featherweight pecking order to top contender Arnold Allen. However, Holloway handed Allen his first UFC loss Saturday in the main event of UFC Kansas City and cemented his position as the No. 2 fighter in the world at 145 pounds.
At the evening’s post-fight press conference, Holloway was asked if he felt disrespected by critics and those who picked him to lose to the younger Allen on Saturday.
“You’re only as good as your last fight and I told you guys I had that [third Alexander Volkanovski] fight, that was the last taste that they had of me,” Holloway said. “I was here with that [Calvin] Kattar fight, I heard the same thing all over again — that Arnold’s going to be the guy who’s going to break my chin, who’s going to put [me] out, too slow, too old, whatever it is. We went out there, we got to prove it. I wanted to go out there and hit and not get hit. Me and my boy have been vibing out to some Roy Jones Jr., Body Head Bangerz — we got to go out there looking good doing it.”
“I just laugh,” Holloway added when asked if the doubts bothered him at all. “Half these guys talking about it probably haven’t fought a day in their life, so they wouldn’t know. I come from this sport. I’m in the gaming world — oh my gosh, the gaming world is even more worse, the s*** talking. So at the end of the day, it’s alright.”
Holloway’s win presents a conundrum to both him and the UFC matchmakers, as he blocked Allen’s title hopes while seemingly getting no closer to another title opportunity himself. The former UFC featherweight champion already has three losses to current champion Alexander Volkanovski.
A jump up to lightweight has often been discussed — a move that Holloway actually made at UFC 236 in April 2019 for a vacant interim title bout with Dustin Poirier which Poirier won — and Holloway is keeping that option in mind so long as the UFC is in agreement.
“We’ll see what happens,” Holloway said. “Never say never. We can talk to the UFC and see if they’d like to do that. They don’t like people splitting their time too much, but the beautiful thing is when you get the belt, you can do whatever you want, so that’s the main goal right now.”
Assuming Holloway sticks around at featherweight, there are several fresh contenders that he can foil as he did Arnold, or there are still a handful of veterans he has yet to share the octagon with.
Chief among the more experienced crowd? “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung.
“That is the only guy in my time with the older guys that I didn’t get to fight,” Holloway said. “I would love that fight. There’s a fight in my agent’s freaking country, Australia — Australia’s supposed to be happening sometime. We don’t know when. And if Korean Zombie wants it, he can get it. I would love to fight him. That’s one of the guys I’ve been growing up and watching.
“I’m kind of tripping out, how didn’t we fight yet? How did we not fight? If that’s one of the guys, then that’s one of the guys. I’d love to fight and share the octagon with him. He’s one of the OGs that I didn’t get to fight yet. We came up in the same era and we didn’t fight each other, so if that’s it, that’s it.”