No new friends: Holloway’s management was there from the UFC beginning

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UFC featherweight champion Max “Blessed” Holloway has expanded his personal brand to include sponsorships from Budweiser, Monster Energy, AllMax Nutrition, Moskova, Farmers Market, Alienware, NAPA Hawaii, Windward Dodge, and a role in the 2018 blockbuster “Den of Thieves.”

“Who would think I’d ever be in a movie? I can barely speak English and (my manager) got me a movie role,” Holloway joked of his dip into Hollywood. 

Holloway hasn’t expanded his close circle of friends and family since his fame erupted, but his manager Brian Butler-Au, is now considered ohana.

The 26-year-old Waianae High School alumnus has risen to the top of the MMA world and has increased his financial opportunities outside of the cage with help from Butler-Au. The head of SuckerPunch Entertainment has worked with Max since the champ was looking for his shot into the big show. 

“Actually my partner is the one who scouted Max and found Max,” Butler-Au said of his business associate Bryan Hamper. “He sent me this video and it was a highlight reel of Max flying around the cage and jumping around. I showed it to Sean Shelby and Joe Silva of the UFC. The call came to fight on short notice.”

At the time the UFC came calling, Holloway was inked to another promotion. Butler-Au helped negotiate Holloway out of that deal so he could enter the Octagon. 

Holloway ended up fighting Dustin Poirier in February of 2012 in his UFC debut as the youngest fighter on the organization’s roster. 

“I was 4-0 when they found me. I was 19 years old,” Holloway said. “I was signed with another promotion at the time. I was just with them to find me sponsors then the UFC came. I was stuck in this contract, and they got me out of the contract and into the UFC. The rest is history.” 

“I remember telling him, there’s a lot of lights. There’s no pressure on you. You’re fighting Dustin Poirier. Just go out there and do what you did in the video,” Butler-Au said. “Make it exciting. That’s what the UFC is looking for.”

“I just wanted to be with the UFC,” Holloway said.

Holloway was submitted in an entertaining fight with “The Diamond,” and hasn’t looked back since.

He’s put together a 15-3 record inside of the Octagon, which includes a current 12-fight winning streak that has spanned over four years.

Holloway’s success has led to a dozen other mixed martial artists inking with SuckerPunch Entertainment:

Maki Pitolo – CFFC

Cheyden Leialoha – AFC

Arnold Berdon – VFC

Rachel Ostovich-Berdon – UFC

Dan Ige – UFC

Boston Salmon – UFC

Tim Teves – Destiny MMA

Kai Boy Kamaka – KOTC

Dustin Kimura – Free Agent

Kamuela Kirk – Iron Boy Promotions

Raquel Pa’aluhi – Invicta

Jake Heun – Road FC

Brandon Sayles – NFC

Butler-Au thinks that the family atmosphere that his Hawaii fighters bring has helped grow the company. 

“With the Hawaiian fighters in general, it’s a lot different, because there’s like a family atmosphere on everything and they’re really close with their circles, and I’m honored to be inside of that circle,” he said. 

“They always say don’t mix family and business, but he was business first and then he became family second,” Holloway added. 

Holloway is currently training and rehabilitating a leg injury suffered in late January. He is currently awaiting a date for his assumed bout with featherweight top contender Brian Ortega.

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