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Al Iaquinta: UFC champ Max Holloway has ‘earned the right’ to fight for second title

Al Iaquinta has no issue with UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway leapfrogging several lightweight contenders and fighting Dustin Poirier for the interim 155-pound title next month.

UFC 223: Nurmagomedov v Iaquinta Photo by Ed Mulholland/Getty Images

Al Iaquinta doesn’t have a problem with the upcoming UFC interim lightweight title fight between Max Holloway and Dustin Poirier.

Some were confused by the booking, considering Holloway is the reigning featherweight champion and there is an array of lightweight contenders waiting for their turn to fight for UFC gold.

Holloway is the fourth UFC champion to fight for a second title — albeit an interim one — in the past year. We are currently living in the era of superfights in MMA. Conor McGregor arguably started the trend of champions moving up or down in weight when he challenged Eddie Alvarez for the lightweight belt in 2016. Daniel Cormier, Amanda Nunes, and T.J. Dillashaw have since followed suit.

“Every person with a title is chasing another title — up or down — and they’re not defending their titles,” Iaquinta told Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show. “Conor (McGregor) is really to blame a lot of it for — I mean, good for him, he did it, but he never defended a title.”

Unlike McGregor, Holloway has already once defended the 145-pound title. He beat Brian Ortega at UFC 231 last December. And that’s why Iaquinta is OK with the Hawaiian’s decision to go for a second title.

“Max, on the other hand — I can kind of see a little more validation for him either going up or down,” Iaquinta said. “He has really put on a clinic at his weight class. He’s basically beat the majority of the guys who would be fighting for a title at 145, so go up to 155 and let the 145 division play out. With the way he’s handled himself as a champion, I think he’s earned the right to go up if he wants to.”

Holloway vs. Poirier headlines UFC 236, which takes place April 13 in Atlanta. The fight is a rematch from their meeting in 2012, in which Poirier submitted Holloway in the first round.

Iaquinta is expected to fight Donald Cerrone in the UFC Ottawa main event on May 4.

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