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Max Holloway: Lightweight move ‘100 percent’ happens at some point in UFC career

Has Max Holloway considered a permanent move up to the lightweight division since his third loss to Alexander Volkanovski?

With few paths back to the title until Volkanovski’s reign ends, that has been one of the biggest question surrounding Holloway since his July 2022 loss to “The Great” at UFC 276, which put him down an 0-3 hole in his series with the current champ. Those questions only intensified following Holloway’s recent victory over Arnold Allen at UFC Kansas City.

But Holloway said Monday on The MMA Hour that a move to 155 pounds hasn’t been the UFC’s focus in his conversations with promotion officials since the Volkanovski trilogy bout.

“I think if UFC really wanted it at ‘55, they would’ve pushed the issue,” Holloway explained on The MMA Hour. “They really didn’t, so at the end of the day, we’re here.

“It’s always good to go up a weight class with a belt, so that’s the plan. And if they thought so — that maybe we couldn’t do a fourth [fight] with Volk — I think they would’ve really pressed the issue on us and told us, ‘Look, you’ve got to go.’ But we’re here, they’re feeding me contenders. So at the end of the day, we’re going to just keep knocking them down.”

Holloway, 31, made a brief detour to 155 pounds in April 2019 when he paused his featherweight title reign to jump upwards and challenge Dustin Poirier for the interim UFC lightweight title at UFC 236. Holloway lost that fight in a competitive unanimous decision, then returned down to 145 pounds to successfully defend his title once more against Frankie Edgar before losing his belt to Volkanovski in December 2019.

Ever since, Holloway has been stuck playing spoiler to the division’s other top contenders, fending off challenges from Calvin Kattar, Yair Rodriguez, and Allen as the world’s most overqualified gatekeeper in his ongoing pursuit to reclaim his featherweight strap.

But even as his focus remains locked on 145 pounds, Holloway isn’t ruling out a move to lightweight in the future. In fact, he guarantees it’ll happen before his UFC run is done.

“One-hundred percent [it’ll happen],” Holloway said. “Why not? I mean, why not? We’ll see what happens with [Volkanovski] when they’re fighting in July now with Yair. I think a lot of people are counting out Yair. I think it’s going to be a much more interesting fight than a lot of people think it is. We get to be a fan that night, so I’m excited.”

For now, Holloway is just as curious as the rest of the division as to Volkanovski’s fate at UFC 290, which takes place July 8 during the promotion’s annual International Fight Week. Volkanovski is set to make the fifth defense of his featherweight title against interim champion Rodriguez, who looked spectacular in submitting Josh Emmett this past February.

Volkanovski is already listed as more than a 4-to-1 betting favorite on many sportsbooks to defeat Rodriguez, but Holloway isn’t discounting the Mexican fighter’s chances.

“I think both of them can win. Yair is a shifty dude, bro,” Holloway said. “They’re both weird dudes. It’s hard to fight someone like Alex. You can’t get training partners like Alex. That dude is build like The Thing [from Marvel’s Fantastic Four] and he’s just a freaking monster. And then Yair, it’s hard to get guys like Yair — guys who can be right in your face and then just throw a high kick, then throw something spinning, throw unorthodox, and a super fast guy.

“So at the end of the day, I think so — I think the fight is going to be a lot more interesting than what people think it is.”

Holloway’s immediate fate in the featherweight division will obviously change if Rodriguez manages to upset Volkanovski at UFC 290.

But if business as usual continues at 145 pounds and Volklanovski retains his title, Holloway reiterated his desire to fight longtime contender Chan Sung Jung next. The two expressed mutual interest in fighting one another after Holloway’s win at UFC Kansas City.

Whether their potential showdown actually happens, though, could come down to timing.

“We’ll see what happens,” Holloway said.

“If it’s September, that’d be better. But if it’s October, then I’ll try to ask to probably go a little bit sooner, because if we fought in September then I would like to try and get one in before December. I want to try to fight three times this year. I want to be busy.

“Just to fight, bro — I missed it,” he continued. “We only got to fight one time last year, so we’ve got to catch up. We’ve got catching up to do. I want to hold all type of [UFC] records. I want to hold the most fights, the most wins — just everything. I might as well.”

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