Holloway: I think the UFC wants $5 million from Hawai’i
UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway pulled out of his title defense vs. Frankie Edgar at UFC 222 on March 3 after suffering an ankle injury in training. ‘Blessed’ appeared recently on Ariel Helwani’s The MMA Hour and talked about all that was at stake.
“It was difficult, man. It was a tough pill to swallow, for sure,” said Holloway, as transcribed by Shaun Al-Shatti for MMA Fighting. “I’ve never, ever pulled out of a fight in my life, not even in my amateur days. And for the first time to be that? So much history was on [the] line.
“Things happen for a reason and this injury popped up and it wasn’t my day. … I was trying to find every single way out of this, trying to talk to the doctors and this and that and figure out a way so we could still go out there and fight, but it wasn’t budging, man. They had the last call, they had the final call — they called it.”
“We’ve got one more doctor’s meeting before everything, in like a month or so, and we’ll see what happens. … The surgery happens if the injury [rehabilitation] won’t hold up, so we’re waiting. The doctor gave us a certain timeline and we’re just playing it by ear now.”
Edgar could have held out for a title shot, but instead gamely took on replacement Brian Ortega, and lost via KO for the first time in his career. Now Holloway has a new challenger.
“It’s huge,” said Holloway accurately. “I’ll tell you this much, a lot of people are talking about this fight more than the Frankie fight, I feel like. So I can’t wait.
“He’s looking super good, I can’t take nothing away from him. He told me to pick my poison and he’s got striking, everybody knows his jiu-jitsu, so I’m excited. These kind of things intrigue me. When I see danger, you guys all know I walk straight to it. I ain’t trying to run away from no danger. If it’s supposed to be dangerous for me, then I’m going to go and take a peek. I want to go and look and see what’s so dangerous about it.”
“He can take a shot, so it should be a fun one. Two guys coming up and both in their prime, so people are going to be in for a great fight.”
The question now is when? Assuming Holloway’s recovery continues smoothly, the timing may hinge on whether the UFC can come to terms with the Hawaii Tourism Authority for a fight at Aloha Stadium in August. Talks are reportedly stalled over financial terms.
“I’m waiting just like you guys,” said Holloway. “I think the talks with Hawaii have come a long way. This is the closest they’ve ever had to having a fight event down here, so we’ll see what happens. … Usually when the NFL comes down [for the Pro Bowl], they give the NFL a $5 million compensation. So I think the UFC was trying to ask for that and then they kinda re-countered and they’re kinda just starting back-and-forth countering, so we’ll see what happens. I’m just glad that the HTA is actually taking the time to finally listen to the UFC and they’re finally talking about it.
“If it happens this year, it happens this year. If not, I’ve got to keep doing my job, and hopefully next year around the summertime it happens. So we’ll see happens. I’m positive that it’s going to happen. We’ve come leaps and bounds ahead of what it was before, so we’ve got the ball moving. We’ve got to just keep on creating hype.”
If UFC 227 in Hawai’i isn’t on, then Holloway hopes to return at UFC 226 in July.
“That’s the timeline we’re looking at right now,” he said. “My doctors, my physical therapists, my coaches, that’s all of the times that we’re looking at right now. They’re trying to see that July and August return, and that’s all I can do, be positive and keep training, keep getting this thing strong. And I can’t wait, man. I can’t wait to make that walk again. It’s a pretty crazy experience getting injured this bad and I don’t wish it on no one.”