Max Holloway is fighting for the interim lightweight championship at UFC 236 in April. After that, the next step is anyone’s guess.
Ahead of this weekend’s big Jones vs. Smith card, the UFC put the focus on its next event: UFC 236. Going down in Atlanta, GA, the card features two interim title fights, with Max Holloway facing Dustin Poirier for the interim lightweight championship in the main event.
A win, though, would leave the UFC with a conundrum: dual champs have struggled at defending both titles in the UFC. Khabib Nurmagomedov is suspended nine months, backdated to October. However, he has been adamant that he will sit out an entire year, in solidarity with suspended teammates Abubakar Nurmagomedov and Zubaira Tukhugov.
So what would come next if Holloway got the better of Poirier? For one, Max Holloway is trying not to look too far ahead. “At the end of the day, first thing’s first, I’ve got Dustin Poirier right here,” he told media members including Cageside Press, as well as fans, at the UFC 236 press conference in Vegas. “We can talk to the UFC after that. I don’t think Frankie [Edgar] or Jose [Aldo] deserve a champ that’s not willing to defend for a year. After this one, if I go back down, like I said, in the Summer, that would be fun. But first thing’s first, April 13.”
What isn’t in the cards, for the time being, is Tony Ferguson. UFC President Dana White clarified that the winner of the interim title will face Khabib next. As for Tony, “I say all the time, when there’s an opportunity, take it,” White said. “Everybody who’s sitting up here today is proof of that. Take the opportunities, and you get the shot. I don’t know where this leaves Tony.”
On the subject of what would be next if Holloway were to win, meanwhile, even White wasn’t sure. Although, he rejected the idea that it might be a long time before the titles could be unified.
“I don’t think it will be a long time. I think that after this fight, he’ll be able to spend some time with his family over the summer,” the UFC President said. “All these guys, whoever wins, spend some time with their families over the summer, get right back into camp, and maybe fight in September.” Of course, September would seemingly rule out Khabib, unless he budged on sitting out the extra time.
Could Holloway defend his featherweight title then? “I don’t know,” said White. “We’ll talk about that after. Let’s see how he gets through this fight, and then we’ll go from there.”
All this, of course, is assuming Holloway wins. Certainly not a given, with the dangerous Poirier in front of him. But as White later noted, of the four fighters topping the UFC 236 card, only one is currently a title holder: Max Holloway.