Max Holloway’s reign as featherweight champion has been mired with health issues — so perhaps Brian Ortega is right.
At first when I considered writing this, I was going to say that the UFC should strip Max Holloway of his featherweight title. But perhaps the three-strike rule should increase to four this time.
Although Holloway has only one title defense in his 400+ days as champion, it is already more than what Conor McGregor did in his 350 days as the featherweight champion.
But UFC president Dana White should be ready to strip Holloway if his injuries and pullouts continue. What good is a champion if he is constantly pulling out?
In 2018 alone, Holloway has had to back out of three fights. Holloway pulled out of UFC 222 due to a leg injury. He agreed to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 223 on six days notice, but the commission stopped him during his weight cut. Holloway pulled out of UFC 226 last week with concussion-like symptoms.
Okay, perhaps he deserves a pass for UFC 223. He took a fight against an undefeated Nurmagomedov on six days notice. Not many fighters would agree to that. Plus, the commission stopped him during his weight cut. However, if a fighter accepts any fight, it is expected that they make weight. Otherwise, why accept the fight? The fact is, Holloway accepted a fight and could not make weight.
Whenever Holloway is cleared to return and whenever he is set to fight next, the UFC must expect him to make it to fight night. If Holloway drops out for a fourth consecutive time, the UFC must strip him of his title. It’s something would-be opponent Brian Ortega has already called for.
Yes, fighter safety should always come first. But as a business, the UFC needs an undisputed champion to be active.
The same thing would occur for a professional sports team. If a player is injury prone, missing a majority of the games each season, he will eventually be out of a job and not many teams will be interested in signing that player.
For the UFC, it should obviously give Holloway ample time to recover, given his three straight pull outs. Once Holloway has been cleared, the UFC has a reason to strip Holloway if he pulls out a fourth time.