The last two years for Max Holloway has been a roller coaster ride. The Hawaii born fighter registered two massive victories over legend Jose Aldo in 2017 – a unification bout for the UFC Undisputed Featherweight Championship at UFC 212 and a defence at UFC 218, with the Brazilian coming in as replacement Frankie Edgar. Holloway was featuring on four cards in 2018, but injuries allowed him to only fight once – against Brian Ortega to retain his title.
With the current UFC Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagamedov suspended a majority of the year, the organisation decided to set-up an interim title fight between Dustin Poirier and the Featherweight Champion at UFC 236.
News18 Sports caught up with the Max Holloway for an exclusive ahead of his clash on Saturday night. Here’s the full transcript.
Q: You are going up against Dustin Poirier for the Interim UFC Lightweight Championship. Since the last time you guys met, back in 2012 at UFC 143, both of you have gone through a lot in the last seven years. What are the major changes you see, in yourself and Poirier, since that night in Las Vegas?
A: It’s two different fighters, it really is two different fighters. All of these guys are cupcakes, that cupcake (Poirier) left a bad taste in my mouth seven years ago. Hopefully, this time around it is much sweeter, I like sweet things. I just can’t wait. We’ve both grown, we were both young back then. I can’t wait to share the Octagon with him once again.
Q: With Khabib Nurmagomedov suspended for a major part of the year, do you think a fight for an interim title makes sense? Should the Dustin Poirier bout have been for the undisputed title?
A: I think the interim title makes sense. That guy was suspended, they say he won’t come back until November, that’s eight months from now and a lot of things can happen in eight months. Maybe he might come back faster than eight months, because they let his brothers fight. Or maybe he goes and fights Floyd Mayweather, who knows?! Or maybe he gets hurt. I don’t wish any injury upon him but there are a lot of maybes that could happen. So, an interim title is an interim title. If it happens, I think it would be a fair play.
Q: You have mentioned to the media that after this fight, you will be going back to the featherweight division to defend your title. Will that plan change if you emerge victorious at UFC 236 or do you see yourself going back down?
A: That won’t change at all, there are a bunch of these ‘Champ Champs’. No ‘Champ Champ’ has really defended the belt having two belts at one time. I want to defend the 145 belt and when I become victorious on Saturday I want to unify the 155 belt and then defend it. At the end of the day, this is what I want. If UFC came to me and gave me a 145 contract that’s what I would have been fighting now, but they came to me and gave me a 155 contract. Right now you’ve got the Renatos, the Alexs, the Zabits. I think Dana told them put them back in the oven and letting them bake a little bit longer. Most of them have only one fight in the top 10 or the top 5, so I think we should just let them bake a little longer and then we will see.
Q: A word on Conor McGregor ‘retirement'. Is it another bluff and a money grab or do you think this is the real deal?
A: Like you say he is retired. I am not going to poke an old man out of retiring. I think he is going to enjoy retirement, because you know during retirement people like to bring up old stuff. Sounds like he is really retired to me but if he comes back, he comes back. I am not holding my breath over anything. I’ve got a legacy to build, I’ve got an end game to end how I want it to. I am not stopping until I get there. If he so happens to come back and try and get in the way then we will meet again.