UFC featherweight champ Max Holloway opens up on struggles with depression

Max Holloway
Image: Max Holloway on Instagram

The year 2018 has not been particularly kind to UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway. The Hawaiian champ has been scheduled for three fights — a title defense against Frankie Edgar, a last-minute lightweight fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov, and a title defense against Brian Ortega — but not one has come to fruition.

Speaking on Good Show with Ben Ennis & JD Bunkis on Wednesday, Holloway divulged that in the wake of this string of cancelled fights, he’s been battling depression.

“It just helped me as a person realize that sometimes you gotta slow things down to get things back correct,” Max Holloway said (transcript via MMA Fighting). “After this last one I dealt with some depression. I was talking about [NBA star DeMar] DeRozan. DeRozan talked about depression and that really shook me. He said that he wished that everybody was rich, that everybody in the world had money so they could understand that money does not make you happy.

“Depression is real and that really hit me hard. I was going through a phase where I wasn’t talking to no one. Only my son. Me and my son would do stuff but I was talking to no one. If I wanted to you I would call you but if people were reaching out to me I was putting myself away. Since I was in that situation, now I’m able to talk about it and I can tell people that’s not the way to do it. The way to do it is talk to your family, talk to your friends, be with everyone because you don’t know when things can change. Life changes on a dime so live life to the fullest.”

Having struggled with depression, Max Holloway wants to remind his fans that it’s important to talk to the people that care about you when you’re struggling.

“Don’t be scared to look for help,” Holloway said. “Depression is real. . . It’s crazy and all these guys, us athletes, that keep thinking we’re superheroes. I like to think I’m a superhero but superheroes got to fight their demons too sometimes.”

Wednesday, coincidentally, was actually World Mental Health Day. On this occasion, UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker also encouraged fans to speak up when their mental health is suffering.

“Your mental health is just as important as your physical health,” Whittaker said on Instagram. “You don’t need to be ok all the time, sometimes stuff’s hard. Ask for help, I do all the time.”

Max Holloway is scheduled to return to the cage at UFC 231 this December, where he will attempt to defend his title against Ortega. Robert Whittaker, meanwhile, is expected to defend his title against Kelvin Gastelum in the new year.

This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 10/10/2018.