"This thing takes a lot of time, not just for my life , but for the life of my coach, it's time I do not have with my son, and it's about time I take more people from their own family, that's what I'm focusing on, making all that matters. "-Max Holloway  As for Holloway? He was quickly redirected to UFC 226, where he was paired with the young, unbeaten switch in his division, Brian Ortega. That fight was fixed for July, and in many ways shared the same intriguing baits that Ferguson-Nurmagomedov did: with Holloway riding a series of victories of 12 fights, they were two waves of impetus that clashed with their peaks, with the sweet, incomprehensible knowledge that one of them would actually lose . It was not the concert of a spotlight like the Khabib game would have been, but it would still be great.
But fate still struck: a few days before the fight took place, Holloway had a groggy interview on
UFC Tonight which concerned everyone who saw it. He looked off for the whole week, showing symptoms of concussion. Some people were speculating that he had a minor stroke, but Holloway's team quickly disproved him. There was news that he had been thrown out in combat and another that had been poisoned. Whatever it was, its influence was worrying. The UFC pulled him out of the paper, and for once people were not worried about losing a main event during the fighting week – they were sincerely worried that something serious could happen with Holloway, both physical and / or mental.
Since then, Holloway has been relatively quiet and deliberately vague. He underwent tests to determine what happened with him in July, but he did not offer real answers. He dealt with his situation in private, not talking to the media or offering a lot on social media. During those months, he had depression attacks. When he finally started to re-emerge, he did not have any final update on his physical or mental health, in addition to reiterating his favorite saying: "It's what it is" – and boasts it, despite the metaphor of funeral being played around to him, he feels great. Big enough to defend the featherweight title against Ortega on Saturday night in Toronto, just five months after the "fright".
But how beautiful is it? This is the subplot of Saturday night's fight. Holloway is the man who solved the great UFC Jose Aldo, throwing him out not once
twice in 2017, and enlisted to try to make history against Nurmagomedov? Or did the fighting game have a cumulative budget on him, a budget that is about to turn out to be in front of a pay-per-view audience, hoping that is not the case?
"These are unfortunate events, and that's all," said Holloway
The Ringer when he was asked this week. "It is what it is, I am a great supporter that a door closes and another opens, I do not see the time to finally take this walk, I miss the feeling, I miss everything. I can not wait to take that walk to the cage. "
Even if you explain, Holloway is not exactly imminent. But then again, Holloway
plays like his old self. He's talking in his usual riddles, saying things like "The Blessed Express was late at the station, but if you ride on a coach or first class he's rolling on the tracks." He has the same old sense of humor that has captivated him fighting the public and the same sense of casual invincibility that made him a species of island legend.
"It is what it is, I am a great supporter that a door closes and another opens, I do not see the time to finally take this walk, I miss the feeling, I miss everything. I miss the crowd, I can not wait to walk that way to the cage. "-Max Holloway
" If you're not trying to be No. 1, then what are you trying to do? "He says. "I want to be the No. One guy from 1 pound in the world, and if it's a weight class [fighting Nurmagomedov] is a weight class." If it's 10 title defenses here [at featherweight] there are 10 title defenses Here, if my boyfriend DC [heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier] wants it, Kung Fu Panda can have it a little bit. We can understand that. "
He has the look and taste of old Holloway, the one to which it does not matter. The one that was presented in Toronto in December two years ago at the UFC 206 with a red metal tie "made of lava". One who usually turns cliches into art, as he did when he said: "I do not leave any turning point without distortion". Holloway, the wild beast of Honolulu, all ears and the Adam's apple, has become a fan favorite because it will fight any giant in the land.
Sometimes the giants win: Holloway lost twice in 2013, one of them to Conor McGregor. Since then, Holloway has won 12 fights in a row. He completed eight of these fights, including all three cases in which a belt was in play. Standing in the octagon after his last fight with Aldo, with his son in his arms, after Joe Rogan complimented him for systematically taking Aldo apart, he simply said "At the end of the day, that's what it is ", the powerful double cliché that Holloway perfected. The crowd in Detroit ate it.
It has become something of a tradition in the UFC to have Holloway headline a December card in a cold part of North America. Two years ago he was in Toronto. Last year he was in Detroit. This year he returned to Toronto, which Holloway has now generously bestowed as the tenth island of Hawaii (a long time ago he had Las Vegas in ninth place). The last time through Holloway passed through the Six against Pettis, the city almost pulled out the red carpet for it. This time he had confab
with Drake in a Toronto Raptors game, and the team even tweeted a GIF by Holloway after beating the Golden State Warriors.
"I am Hawaiian," he says. "I firmly believe that the UFC is trying to warm me up, but that's what it is, my ass is freezing, but really, Toronto takes me as if I were them, and at this point I'm a little Canadian, eh? "
Holloway is playful ahead of the next big fight in his career, even though the Vegas oddsmakers have listed him as a fighting game. The 27 year old Ortega is older than Holloway, although he has almost the same level of experience. What
has is a supernatural power. He has the ability to punish the man in front of him from any place where the fight takes place: standing, on the ground, along the fence, in the middle of the cage, in clinch or in a race. It is the definition of an "all-round" fighter, the new race that is equally paid into every martial arts discipline.
He is also a great game hunter. In his last meeting with UFC 222, Ortega became the first man to finish Frankie Edgar. In his previous meeting, a major event against Cub Swanson, Ortega essentially ended the fight
twice – once late in the first round when Swanson was saved from the bell, then again with a flying guillotine to half of the second. It was a thing of devastating beauty. Swanson later said that he thought he would die, the suffocation was so tight.
"If my boyfriend DC [heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier] wants it, Kung Fu Panda may have it a little bit. We can understand that." -Max Holloway
Even with that kind of credentials to think about, Holloway shrugs shoulders. The first time he faced Aldo, a lot of people thought he had been fed headlong into the blade of a circular saw, but he shook his shoulder. Holloway took out Aldo once, then made some changes from the first fight and did it again six months later. Holloway has become the type of fighter in which the hype goes to die.
"I do not care who is in our sights, I'm just trying to be the best pound fighter," he says when I ask him about Ortega. "It's just another guy in the way, he's been on sight for a bit longer than usual, but that's okay, I can understand, and I'm excited … This fight excites me. guys you're like, 'Oh, who did this guy fight' 'Then you look and go,' Damn it, he and he and he, and did what for this guy? ' # 39; "
There is much mutual respect between Ortega and Holloway. Both are really nice figures in the UFC. Holloway brings a relaxed, often comical attitude that plays in direct contrast to such a heart-wrenching sport. Ortega, which rises from an impoverished area of Los Angeles, brings a feeling of benevolence. After winning his first combat bonus, he opened the Brian Ortega Foundation, a "non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring others to be the change they hope to see in the world." Both have a huge advantage, both in the cage that (perhaps most importantly) outside: the bilingual Ortega could be key to helping the UFC to break through the Mexican market, and Holloway has long pressured UFC carried a combat card to his native Hawaii. There are no heels in this scenario.
Sometimes with UFC matchmaking, there is the prevailing feeling that change is needed. When McGregor fought for a long time the featherweight champion Aldo for the title in 2015, the pay-per-view was doing in the six figures from low to mid. With McGregor, everyone knew that one million PPVs would all be guaranteed. From the business point of view, it is possible to infer the root interest of the UFC.
With Holloway and Ortega? It seems that whoever wins this fight would be perfectly in place with the UFC brass. And to make sure that at least one of them arrives at the octagon during the night of combat, the UFC has gone so far as to put in place a substitute. In this case, it is Renato Moicano, who was supposed to fight against Mirsad Bektic on Saturday night, before Bektic pulled out of an injury. It will now serve as an insurance policy if Ortega or Holloway retire at the last minute.
Given the year that Holloway had, the decision to have Moicano on his wings seems more like an accusation about him alone.
"I just need to focus on butt butt," says Holloway. "This is all I have to do, it takes a lot of time, not just for my life, but for the life of my coach, it's time I do not have with my son, and it's about time I take more people from their own family This is what I focus on: all that matters, so when we go out there, I can look them all in the eye and say I gave everything I had … I did it, that's me and most of my team is like that. "
For a guy who rebuilt his name from scratch after his last defeat in 2013, Holloway did everything right. He won a long series of fights and teased Conor McGregor for a rematch. He honed his microphone skills. He became a cult figure in the UFC, with a reputation that most fighters can only envy. If he beats Ortega, a superfight with Nurmagomedov will once again cross the minds of the matchmakers. "I really wanted that fight," says Holloway. "Everyone was calling me crazy, but Khabib is just as crazy, he was about to fight me."
He turned into a UFC legend overnight volunteering for that fight. The cult of Holloway is strong, but the question remains: Holloway is OK?
"For sure I was in a strange place with all those things, but it never crossed my mind that I would not fight anymore," he says. "That's the warrior in me, but once I sat down and relaxed and enjoyed a little free time with my son, that helped me, that's why I love my family and my team. "My team puts my life on anything.
" I have spoken openly about depression and the only person who gets you out of you is yourself. So [I] needs to remember to take a step back and bless myself. You must remember to bless yourself. "At that moment, as at the right time, he sneezes and says," Bless me, "the old ham returns to his ways." I went through that stuff. But I'm here. Everything happens for a reason, and this year had to happen. It's bad to come after the year 2017, but that's what it is. "
That could be the name on the poster.
UFC 231: It's what it is.
But what exactly is it? It's still the same as December 2017, according to Holloway." L & # 39; last time I checked, the Blessed Era is still in full effect, "he says." The Blessed Express is leaving the station. "