When an injury forced Tony Ferguson to pull out of his fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov in the main event at UFC 223 on Saturday, April 7, UFC featherweight champ Max Holloway agreed to take Ferguson’s place.
That left Holloway only six days’ notice to battle against Nurmagomedov for the lightweight title, but the ambition made a certain kind of sense: If Holloway (19-3) takes down Nurmagomedov (25-0 in the UFC), he’ll be the second UFC fighter to hold belts in two weight classes simultaneously. (The first? None other than “The Notorious” Conor McGregor.)
But even though there’s a belt on the line—and even though cutting weight poses a significant challenge, particularly for Holloway—the fighters haven’t shown any of the typical pre-fight animosity. To wit: On Monday, they were spotted running on treadmills approximately ten feet from one another:
Although Holloway is moving up a weight class for the bout, he has some serious weight cutting to do ahead of Friday’s weigh-ins, according to his nutritionist, George Lockhart.
“This is huge for Max and honestly this would be so easy to say, ‘No, man, he can’t do it’ and it would be no stress on me,” Lockhart told mmafighting.com. “But the kid, I know he wants it. I know Max wants it. He’s actually excited about this shit. He has so much weight to cut, but he was excited. It was like he had a challenge. He’s just like, ‘Let’s do this’ and I’m like, ‘All right.’”
Holloway is known for his warrior mindset, and his weight cut is sure to be brutal, but Lockhart is confident in Holloway’s dedication and ability to get where he needs to be.
“Max I know is gonna do it to a ‘T,’” Lockhart said. “I know he’s gonna be able to push himself to where most people aren’t willing to go.”
Catch UFC 223 on Saturday, April 7 at 10 p.m. ET to watch Holloway and Nurmagomedov face off for the UFC lightweight title. Also on the main card: Rose Namajunas once again faces Joanna Jedrzejczyk, plus Renato Moicano vs. Calvin Kattar, Michael Chiesa vs. Anthony Pettis, and Al Iaquinta vs. Paul Felder.