UFC 231: Should Max Holloway Move Up to Lightweight?
Sunday, December 9, 2018
UFC 231 lived up to the hype Saturday night and delivered an exciting card overall that sent fans in attendance at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Canada home happy. UFC featherweight champion Max “Blessed” Holloway extended his winning streak and showcased why he truly is one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world when he retained the title by doctor stoppage at the end of the fourth round, which gave Brian ‘T-City’ Ortega his first loss in MMA.
In women’s flyweight action, Valentia ‘Bullet’ Shevchenko defeated former UFC strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk to win the UFC Women’s flyweight championship, which had been vacated when then champion Nico Montano had difficulties cutting down to 125lbs for her title defense.
Also, Thiago Santos defeated Jimi Manuwa, Canadian Hakeem Dawudo defeated Kyle Bochniak, and Gunnar Nelson defeated Alex Oliveira. There are some exciting matchups for Max Holloway if he decides to move up to lightweight in 2019.
Max Holloway vs Tony Ferguson (Lightweight 155lbs)
Max Holloway proved that he is in the discussion of being the greatest featherweight fighter of all-time on Saturday night. He was able to overwhelm Brian Ortega with his striking and movements that saw him change from an orthodox stance to southpaw with ease and even predicted that he’d be able to finish Ortega before the fourth round began.
Before the event, UFC President Dana White mentioned to the media that he would prefer to see Holloway move up to lightweight because it would be better for his health to not have to cut a large amount of weight and it would create many interesting fights at 155lbs.
A big fight the UFC could make is Max Holloway vs Tony Ferguson. Following Holloway’s victory, Ferguson tweeted:
Woooooooooo!!!!! Good Job Both Fighters!! Love To See That Kind Of Entertainment!!! @BlessedMMA#ufc231Enjoy The Victory, If @TeamKhabib Ducks Me Let’s Run It - Respect
Although Ferguson is the number-one contender for Khabib Nurmagomedov’s lightweight championship, he may not get the title shot because Khabib is still awaiting his hearing with the NSAC to find out how long he’ll be suspended for his actions at UFC 229. If Khabib is suspended, Holloway vs Ferguson would make a lot of sense for an interim lightweight title because it would ensure that the division has a clear number-one contender and pay-per-view draw when Khabib returns.
Holloway originally stepped in to replace Ferguson when he was forced to pull out of his fight with Khabib at UFC 223 in April however, the commission felt that Holloway was cutting too much weight in a short period of time, so they pulled him from the card. With Ferguson having a successful return at UFC 229 and Holloway being open to moving up to lightweight, Holloway vs Ferguson could be the fight to make in case Khabib is suspended.
Max Holloway vs Conor McGregor II (Lightweight 155lbs)
Another lightweight fight that would interest fans is the rematch between former UFC featherweight and lightweight champion Conor McGregor and Max Holloway. The last time Max Holloway was defeated inside the octagon was by unanimous decision against Conor McGregor at UFC Fight Night: Shogun vs Sonnen in 2013.
A lot has changed since then especially the way Holloway has evolved as a fighter. On that card in 2013, McGregor and Holloway were on the prelims for a free TV card but now those two fighting one another would not only main-event a PPV card, but it could bring in a massive buyrate for the UFC.
Both fighters are stand-up type fighters and charismatic so this would bring an entertaining buildup and fight because both have been able to get in their opponents head during their fights and it would be interesting to see if Holloway, now in the prime of his career as opposed to beginning, would be able to get the better of McGregor.
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Photo Credit: @UFC, @Gian_411