UFC 252 takes place at the APEX Centre on Sunday 16th August, as heavyweights Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier fight for the UFC heavyweight title.
Following his controversial loss to Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 251 this past weekend, Max Holloway’s career sits at a crossroads.
Holloway has now lost two consecutive bouts against Volkanovski, the first coming at UFC 245 via unanimous decision.
Despite a majority of the MMA community and UFC president Dana White believing Holloway did enough to get his hand raised on Fight Island, the fact still stands that Holloway has lost three of his last four fights in the octagon.
So, what is next for the former featherweight champion?
Well, the first option is a fight against either Brian Ortega or Chan Sung Jung (the Korean Zombie), with the winner of the fight earning a shot at the title in 2021.
The Ortega vs Korean Zombie fight was all but booked prior to the coronavirus outbreak, with the pair getting into an altercation at UFC 248 earlier this year and a lot of bad blood existing between the featherweights. Given the current flight restrictions placed on the United States, Jung is unable to fly to the country to face Ortega, therefore leaving a Fight Island card as their only possible destination.
Therefore, it leaves a perfect opportunity for Holloway to step in and face either Ortega at the Apex Centre later this year or fight Jung on Fight Island at a later date if the fight between Jung and Ortega does not materialise.
The second option for Holloway is spending a year away from the sport. Given his difficult position, it is not unthinkable that Holloway may want to step back from the division and let a few opportunities present themselves before signing on the dotted line once again.
The third option is moving back up to the lightweight division to face Tony Ferguson or even New Zealander Dan Hooker.
Both Ferguson and Hooker are coming off brutal losses, Ferguson’s coming at the hands of interim champion Justin Gaethje, while Hooker was defeated by Dustin Poirier in June.
These two fights both make sense for Max, as they both have the potential to earn Holloway a sizeable payday (mostly the Ferguson fight). A fight with Tony Ferguson could co-main one of the biggest cards of 2021 in front of a sold-out crowd – tell me that doesn’t have entertainment written all over it.
If Holloway was to defeat Ferguson at 70 kgs, it would set up a perfect opportunity to face the winner of Khabib Nurmagomedov and Gaethje for the lightweight championship. A possible rematch with Conor McGregor would also be on the cards, which Holloway would accept given the money he would make.
The only problem surrounding Max moving up to the 70 kg division is that he hasn’t had success there after attempting the same move early last year, where Holloway suffered a fairly comprehensive decision defeat at the hands of Poirier in an interim title fight.
The final option for Holloway is an immediate rematch with Volkanovski sometime next year.
It is generally unheard of for a trilogy to occur when one fighter has won two consecutive bouts but given Holloway’s star power and the unsettling nature of Volkanovski’s last victory, it’s possible that White may book the fight for a third time.