After his loss to Alexander Volkanovski, former UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway vowed that he and his team would rebuild. With that, the question becomes, what is there to rebuild for the 30-year-old ex-champ?
UFC 276 marked Holloway’s third loss in three fights to the current UFC 145-pound king. The decision loss was the most decisive of the three setbacks. While there might have been some questions about the second fight between Volkanovski and Holloway, the 33-year-old champion stamped “definitive” all over his unanimous decision win in the trilogy bout.
To all the fans do not cry for me Argentina. This is part of life. We need to rebuild and we will. I love you!— Max Holloway (@BlessedMMA) July 3, 2022
Before his three fights with Volkanovski, Holloway was on a 14-0 run at featherweight with 10 of those bouts ending via stoppage. Holloway is the second best fighter at 145 pounds in the UFC. There’s nothing for him to rebuild if he remains at 145 pounds because the odds of him getting a fourth shot at Volkanovski, as long as he is champion, are infinitesimal.
If Holloway stays at featherweight, he will dominate with his combination of volume striking, granite chin, and unyielding will. However, where things could get interesting is if that rebuild is designed for him to pursue a run at 155 pounds.
Holloway made a go at lightweight in 2019 when he fought Dustin Poirier — a former featherweight himself — for the interim UFC title. Holloway didn’t look bad, but his high-volume approach didn’t have the same success at 155 that it has at 145. He simply did not have the power to hang in that matchup with Poirier, who jumped up to 155 in 2015.
If there is a rebuild in the future for Max Holloway, it will be to develop his body and style to suit the rigors of the lightweight division. If he decides his future is at lightweight — and judging from some of his weight cuts, it might be — I expect the UFC will throw Holloway directly into the deep end of the division. With that, Holloway’s best bet is to take some time off and immerse himself in making the move up in the smartest way possible. At 30, Holloway has plenty of time to invest in himself.
There’s also the possibility that Holloway takes all the good will he’s built with fans, fighters and the UFC and goes the “big fights only” route until he decides what he really wants for his future. With that, a rematch between Holloway and Conor McGregor would be a perfect first step into that arena.
Holloway has a lot to think about in the aftermath of his loss to Volkanovski, but one thing he doesn’t have to concern himself with is if fans will be interested in whatever he decides to do with his career.