Max Holloway has received heaps of praise over the last couple of years, on account of his jaw-dropping run, but it doesn’t sound like any of the hype has got to the featherweight champ.
Since Holloway was defeated by Conor McGregor back in 2013, the Hawaiian fighter has done nothing but win, as “Blessed” has won 12 straight fights. Due to that streak, and impressive wins over renowned fighters like Jose Aldo, Anthony Pettis, Cub Swanson, Jeremy Stephens and Ricardo Lamas, Holloway has leaped up the pound-for-pound rankings. As he gets set to face Brian Ortega at UFC 231 this Saturday, he’s currently ranked #5 in the promotion’s P4P ranks.
But, so far, it certainly doesn’t look like all the deserved fanfare and praise has gotten to his head. While Holloway is understandably high on confidence, he sounds keenly aware of how dangerous Ortega is. Case in point, during the latest “MMA Hour“, “Blessed” had this to say about his next opponent (quote via MMA Fighting):
“Everybody keeps saying this is going to be one of the hardest fights for me, and I believe. I believe every fight is hard,” Holloway said. “Everybody keeps saying this guy is undefeated and this and that, 14-0. I’m 0-0 every fight, I’m undefeated. He’s fighting an undefeated fighter too…”
“The man is dangerous,” Holloway added. “He’s just a dangerous guy all around. He showed that he can knock you out with a punch, with a kick, with a knee. He showed that if you give him something, he’s going to try to take it home with him. And he also showed that he’s got a chin on him. That Mexican blood in him is crazy. It’s going to be a crazy fight. Mexicans and Hawaiians, we’re born fighters. But it’s going to be crazy and amazing, and I just can’t wait to [fight]. This is one of those guys. This is a fight where everybody keeps talking about, ‘Man, I wish these guys could fight this guy, or blah, blah.’
Now, sure, if you just isolated some of the first comments above, one might conclude that Holloway is underestimating Ortega. But, as the follow-up quotes show, he isn’t.
If you asked multiple observers, chances are most would tell you that if this fight stays standing, Holloway will very likely win. On the other hand, the consensus is that if Ortega can grab a hold of the champ’s neck or take the fight down, Holloway’s going to be in serious trouble. Holloway, however, has clearly learned the lessons that Ortega’s wins over the likes of Frankie Edgar and Clay Guida provided.
Holloway’s take on Ortega aside, this bout has all the makings of being an instant classic. Let’s hope it unfolds that way.
UFC 231 will be hosted by Toronto, Ontario.