With the stars aligned for a megafight this summer, it appears that negotiations have stalled between UFC and Hawaii to host Max Holloway’s inevitable title defense against the undefeated Brian Ortega.
According to sources close to the situation, a proposal sent by UFC to Hawaii Tourism Authority in January to host UFC 227 at Aloha Stadium in August was countered by the agency recently.
However, the two sides are said to be on opposite sides of the Octagon regarding the price tag.
Like the National Football League, which was paid $5 million by the state to hold the Pro Bowl, the UFC traveling to Hawaii would require incentive.
Sources tell KHON2 that HTA’s counter left the two sides millions of dollars apart.
HTA does not need to be involved for UFC to bring an event to Hawaii. However, sources close to the situation feel that the partnership will likely be dependent on the organization coming to the islands with high costs, which the production would require for a large-scale event.
Holloway was originally scheduled to face Frankie Edgar this past Saturday at T-Mobile Arena as the main event of UFC 222. Holloway was forced to withdraw from the fight with a leg injury on Feb. 3. Edgar instead faced off with rising star Ortega (14-0-1, 6-0-1 UFC), who secured an opening-round knockout victory over the former lightweight champion.
The expectation is that undefeated Ortega will next face Holloway for the title, but according to the champion, the dream of having that fight in Hawaii doesn’t appear to be a reach at this point.
Holloway tweeted “@UFC 226” shortly following Ortega’s victory. UFC 226 is scheduled for July 7 in Las Vegas at T-Mobile Arena.
“I heard 227 in August was supposed to be UFC Hawaii, but I tweeted 226 because you got to move on,” Holloway said. “You can’t hold this stuff forever. I can’t hold my breath. I got a life. I got a family to take care of. I got a little kid. I got fans. If I can’t get UFC Hawaii, like I said, the Ninth Island is the next best thing, so it’s a tough pill to swallow, but at the end of the day, it is what it is. We can’t control nothing. All we can do is create buzz, so I’d like to thank all the fans that are creating buzz.”
Holloway, who spoke with KHON2 Sports Director Rob DeMello during his morning workout at Tactical Strength and Conditioning in Kakaako, acknowledges that UFC Hawaii talks have gone further than ever before, and doesn’t rule out a fight at home in the future.
With the current target being just five months away, a plan B will likely be required.
“We came far along. There is still yet time, and I think it is going to happen,” Holloway said. “I was hearing it was supposed to happen this August, and if it does, it does. You’re going to have a Hawaii boy representing and protecting some gold in August, but if not, come to the Ninth Island in July, baby. Hopefully everything works out with my injury and stuff comes along. We find out in a couple of weeks and hopefully I get to fight. I just got to get back in there and do my thing.”
Ortega told the UFC Unfiltered podcast with Jim Norton and Matt Serra that UFC president Dana White informed him Monday that he would be getting a title shot. Holloway sounded as interested as fight fans regarding a title defense against the rising star.
“I’m excited. The guy’s got a doughnut next to, in his loss column, so I would love to give him that one, and I have a habit of doing that to a lot of people, so we’ll see what happens,” Holloway said. “He intrigues me in different ways. The last time I checked, people were telling me that he’s this great striker. Everybody knows that he’s this great ground guy, pick my poison, so whatever the date is, he’s going to be faced with the antidote. We’ll see what way he answers.”