Firas Zahabi questions the decision-making of Max Holloway at UFC 236

Dustin Poirier, Max Holloway
Image: @BlessedMMA on Twitter

Max Holloway was looking to become a two division champion at UFC 236. The featherweight king was moving up in weight to take on 155-pound contender Dustin Poirier for the interim lightweight championship. Ultimately, Poirier beat Holloway by unanimous decision to snap the Hawaiian’s 13-fight winning streak.

Although Holloway lost, he had some good moments in the fight, but many thought the size discrepancy between he and Poirier played a huge factor. However, MMA coach, Firas Zahabi believes Dustin Poirier simply fought a smarter fight, which resulted in him getting the win.

“Poirier fought smart, and Holloway fought with his heart,” Zahabi said on a recent AMA session (transcript via BloodyElbow).

“Holloway fought blood and guts, he fought with his heart. So did Poirier, but he fought with heart and brains. He was just more strategic than Holloway. He was playing the game, whereas Holloway was trying to win with pure heart and grit.”

Zahabi believes Holloway just didn’t fight like his usual self which resulted in him losing for the first time since 2013.

“It was a poor choice,” he continued. “I thought he could have done better. He forgot to move his feet, he forgot to move his head, he forgot to parry. He forgot all these things. Why? Because he was too busy egging on Poirier to hit him.

“And Poirier was more than willing to hit him. He landed the more powerful strikes, the cleanest strikes, and Poirier was more defensively responsible, he said. “Let’s just be honest, at the end of the day, Holloway was defensively irresponsible.

“I love the guy and I admire him as a fighter. I think he’s one of the greats. He’s gonna go into the Hall-of-Fame. The man is a brilliant fighter. He just, in my opinion, got too much in the heat of battle. It happens. It happens to the best fighters. The man is a brilliant fighter, however, Dustin was strategically superior,” he explained.

“I felt that Holloway was getting hit by the same shots and was not adjusting. He didn’t really kick too much, and I just feel like he was boxing with a really good boxer, where he should have been kicking and kneeing and elbowing,” he said. “I just felt that he had to mix it up more, use his other tools.”

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This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 4/22/2019.