Just hours after accepting to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov for the UFC Lightweight Championship in the main event of UFC 223 on Saturday, Waianae’s Max Holloway left Honolulu en route to New York.
“April Fools! Nah, I’m just joking. The news was crazy. My manager called me. He told me that Tony is hurt and they want you and Khabib. So I was like, how do you turn down an opportunity like this? Opportunities like this come once in a lifetime. Really only one guy was able to do it. So glad to be the second guy and go out there and make history,” Holloway told KHON2 Sports Director Rob DeMello at the Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport prior to his flight.
Holloway, the reigning UFC Featherweight Champion, will replace interim 155-pound champion Tony Ferguson who was forced to pull out of the bout due to a knee injury.
“I’m here to fight man. I’m not a match maker. I got business to handle at 145, but I said, when the UFC calls I’m gonna call away you know? They called the right guy you know? I’m here on six days notice, April 7th. It’s going to be a great night,” Holloway said.
The fight against Nurmagomedov will take place just six days after Holloway was offered, accepted, and signed the contract for what will be the biggest fight of his career.
When asked what his initial thoughts were regarding a five round fight against Nurmagomedov, Holloway replied, “To be the best you got to beat the best and the best is blessed baby.”
“I can’t wait. This guy is one of the most feared guys you know? I don’t know why, we are all fighters, we all train. He’s human, I’m human. Let’s get out there and find out who’s better,” Holloway said.
Holloway, who is riding a 12-fight winning streak, is a plus-365 underdog against the 25-0 number one contender.
With a victory, Holloway would join elite company as champions in multiple UFC weight classes.
Only Hawaii’s BJ Penn, Randy Couture, Conor McGregor and Georges St-Pierre have accomplished that feat.
McGregor is the only fighter who holds titles simultaneously. He won the lightweight title as the reigning featherweight champ.
Holloway and Nurmagomedov will face off on Saturday, April 7 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
The fight card will begin at 4 p.m. Hawaii time on Pay Per View.