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Max Holloway: We were within ‘striking distance’ to make weight for UFC 223

Featherweight champion Max Holloway says he was a few pounds away from pushing through with his supposed fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 223.

After Tony Ferguson was forced out of his scheduled UFC 223 headliner title fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov, the first fighter to step in as his replacement was Max Holloway. These plans were also scrapped when the UFC featherweight champion was deemed medically unfit to fight by the New York State Athletic Commission.

During Monday’s episode of The MMA Hour, Holloway revealed that he was “maybe” over 180 pounds during fight week. But within two days prior to fight night, he says he was able to drop down below 159 pounds.

“[Doctors] checked me on the morning of the weight cut on Thursday,” Holloway told Ariel Helwani (via MMA Fighting). “And before media day they checked me and then they kept checking me. We were cutting weight and every time we were cutting they were coming in, coming in and coming in.”

“The last real push, they came in and checked and they called it. Depressing sh-t, man. It’s pretty sad, but it is what it is. These things happen.”

“We got a little bit under [159 pounds],” he added. “We were close; we were in striking distance for sure.”

With apparently almost 30 pounds to lose in six days, Holloway says he was never deterred by the challenge that was put in front of him.

“I never thought it was going to be impossible. It never once crossed my mind,” Holloway said. “It was harder than most [cuts] for sure. But I was just bigger, that’s it. I had a little bit more body fat on me than I usually do. It was just new experiences. It was nothing crazy.”

“I wasn’t thinking, ‘Oh, I’m going to die!’ or things like that — never ever,” he continued. “This is part of the game; it was just harder than most [weight cuts]. We took the challenge knowing the consequences. We went out there and we did the damn thing.”

“We got stopped, we got pulled and the sh-t hurts. It’s been a hurtful year for me so far. I’d never pulled out of a fight in my life and then I got two pulled on me, two big ones too. It’s a tough pill to swallow right now.”

Holloway (19-3, with 11 wins by stoppage) is still slated to defend his title against Brian Ortega, next. The fight date, however, has yet to be determined.