Yesterday afternoon, we learned that Tony Ferguson had been forced out of his UFC 223 lightweight title showdown with Khabib Nurmagomedov with a leg injury. Somewhere amid the fallout of this unfortunate twist of fate, the UFC contacted its reigning featherweight champion Max Holloway, and offered him a last-minute fight with Nurmagomedov. Flaunting some seriously hefty cojones, Holloway accepted this offer, and will now battle the undefeated Nurmagomedov for lightweight gold in the new UFC 223 main event.
Speaking on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour, Holloway’s manager Brain Butler-Au shared Holloway’s reaction to this insane turn of events.
“Max already had his eyes on both Tony and Khabib for some time,” he said. “He actually said it in the last media thing we did, the big media day. The only concern that I had was ‘can he make the weight in time,’ you know? Like, [UFC 223 is] six days away, and he’s got an 18 hour flight from Hawaii to hop on. But Max didn’t hesitate at all. He immediately said to me, his exact words were: ‘let’s fucking do it bro, this is how legends are made.’ That’s exactly what he said to me. And I said, we gotta let [nutritionist] George [Lockhart] crunch the numbers, cause I don’t want the weight cut… I’m sure he can make the weight, but I want him to make it healthy, and I don’t want it to have any long-term effects on him. So George crunched the numbers, it took about an hour, hour and a half, for George to do all that, check everything out. He came back, said he can do it. He said it’s going to be a grind for him, but if anyone can do it, he knows Max can, and he can do it in a healthy manner. After that, it was just on.”
While Holloway’s team is confident he can make 155 on 6 days notice, they did ask the UFC if the bout with Nurmagomedov could be contested in the 170-pound welterweight division, where the cut would be less strenuous.
“We said we would do it at welterweight, but the UFC wanted it to be a title fight. So we reevaluated, and Max, like I said, he said that quote.”
Do you think Max Holloway can pull off an upset for the ages and become a two-division champ this weekend?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 4/2/2018.