Aside from a decision loss to Dustin Poirier at lightweight in April, Max Holloway has been nearly invincible inside the Octagon -- and Saturday night was no different.
Holloway was his normal tactically relentless self in the main event of UFC 240 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, where he turned away former UFC lightweight king Frankie Edgar over five rounds, winning a lopsided unanimous decision. “Blessed” busted up Edgar’s face with a brilliant jab and stuffed well over a dozen takedown attempts to retain his featherweight crown.
But even as great as Holloway has been and regardless of how much praise has been heaped upon the Hawaiian since his title reign began, he still felt it necessary to silence whatever critics were left. Edgar’s tricky offensive style and aggressive wrestling was expected to cause a problem for Holloway, but it wound up being a moot point in the end.
“Everybody said I wasn’t able to wrestle with this guy,” he said immediately following his win. “I wanted to prove a point and go five rounds with him, so I could let the world know I’m here to stay.”
At the post-fight press conference, Holloway elaborated more on how he was able to be so successful against a man who will one day be enshrined in the UFC’s Hall of Fame.
“I got to find myself early in that fight,” Holloway told reporters. “I kept hearing people say his wrestling is going to be too much, I kept hearing people saying that his pressure on me was going to be too much, so I wanted to go five rounds and show everybody that ‘The Blessed Express’ is on the move, ‘The Blessed Era’ is in full effect and that’s what we did.”
Holloway was quick to point out that the Edgar fight was crucial to him in the grand scheme of things for what he’s trying to accomplish inside the cage.
“Frankie is a true warrior,” he said. “He’s the guy who inspired me to be here. Without the guys like Frankie Edgar you would’ve have guys like me. Frankie was the inspiration. Drake said, ‘Train until your idols become your rivals.’ He’s why I’m here. He’s a beast. You can’t take nothing away from Frankie. He’s a legend.
“I’m trying to be the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, not the best featherweight in the world,” he added. “I’m trying to be the best pound-for-pound fighter and Frankie is one more step towards me completing that goal.”
Holloway (21-4) has won 13 straight battles at featherweight, which ties the UFC’s record for consecutive wins in a division with Anderson Silva (middleweight), Jon Jones (light heavyweight) and Demetrious Johnson (flyweight). Already considered one of the best fighters on the planet, some have proclaimed him as the greatest featherweight in the history of the sport. Holloway eventually wants that title to be undisputed, but he admitted on Saturday that he’s not quite there yet.
“I’m just trying to be a legend,” he said. “I’m trying to be the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world, and that’s the names I got to be up there with, and that’s respect. So like I said, all this GOAT talk and whatever, that doesn’t affect me. When it’s all said and done, I can sit back and relax, and [Jose] Aldo’s still the man. He’s still got the most wins, he’s got the most title defenses and so on. Until I beat those records, then maybe I can be in that conversation.”
What’s next for Holloway is unknown. The Hawaiian said he wants to fight once more before the year ends, but he also wants to be cautious about how he approaches his next outing. There were two unfortunate deaths inside the ring in the sport of boxing last week and Holloway mentioned them when speaking of when he’ll next climb through the Octagon’s door.
“I’ve got this little mini-me right here,” he said, pointing to his son. “We had some tragedies in combat sports this past week and we want to stay on top of it and go to the doctors. I’m trying to stay around for a long time, not a good time. “We’ll see what happens. I look fine, I look great, but I’ll wait to talk to my team and my coaches. I fought three title fights in seven months. I want to fight one more time this year, but we’ve got to take all the right tests and see and we’ll go from there.”