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Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)

I’m only just getting started, says new UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway

Hawaii-based fighter pays visit to Bruce Lee statue on promotional visit to Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 August, 2017, 7:25pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 August, 2017, 9:56am

Recently crowned Ultimate Fighting Championship featherweight champion Max Holloway is sending out a message as he tours Asia this week.

“I’m only just getting started,” the 25-year-old told the Post. “It’s what I was put on this earth to do – to fight – and it’s the greatest feeling in the world when people call you champ.”

As if he needed any more inspiration, Holloway made sure he paid his respects to Hong Kong’s most famous fighter as the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) started its promotional push for two mega events coming up in Asia.

“I posted a photo of myself at the Bruce Lee statue [in Tsim Sha Tsui] today and had no idea I had so many fans here,” he said. “Like my nickname says, I’m ‘Blessed’.”

The UFC heads to Japan at the Saitama Super Arena on September 23 before making its mainland China debut with an event scheduled for Shanghai’s Mercedes-Benz Arena on November 25.

Hong Kong, what's up?

A post shared by Max Holloway (@blessedmma) on Jul 31, 2017 at 8:30pm PDT

“It’s super exciting,” said Holloway. “It’s cool. It’s growing. The UFC just has so many fans in this part of the world.”

The Hawaii-based fighter dispensed of a future Hall of Famer when he blasted Jose Aldo out in the third round of their title fight back in June, the referee calling an end to matters after the Brazilian had weathered a furious onslaught.

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The stunning victory moved Holloway’s record to 18-3 and he said he now had a line-up of future Hall of Famers in his sights – Conor McGregor among them – before he calls time on his own career and takes his place in the mixed martial arts pantheon.

“I’m the king and the king won’t leave his throne,” said Holloway. “I want to fight two to three times a year. There’s Cub [Swanson] and Frankie [Edgar] – maybe they could tag team me.

“Seriously though, Frankie is one of the guys on the list – he had a thing with another Hawaiian in BJ Penn, so there’s a little drama there.

“I’ve lost to three guys [McGregor, Dennis Bermudez and Dustin Poirier] in my career and I want to fight them again too.

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“Even the Korean Zombie [Jung Chan-sung] is back and that would be a fun fight. I’ve always wanted to fight him. You have to fight the best guys of your time.

“I got to take a legend in Anthony Pettis, one of the greatest in the sport in Jose Aldo. I want to build this legendary [Greatest of All Time] status. That’s the plan.”

McGregor was the last fighter to beat Holloway, back in August 2013 when the Irishman was still rising through the ranks.

Holloway has gone on an 11-fight streak since culminating in that title victory over Aldo – officially a TKO at four minutes and 13 seconds of the third round – and says once he is done with cutting a swathe through the UFC’s featherweight division he’d be more than happy to renew acquaintances with the man who calls himself “Notorious” by moving up to the lightweights.

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“It’s cool what he’s done for the sport,” said Holloway. “I don’t want him to come down [in weight]. That would just be an excuse when it goes bad for him. I’ll come to him.

“I can go up to 155 and I’m only turning 26. In mixed martial arts people think we can fight for a long time but we have a very short window.

“I want to fight until I am 35. That’s a long time – I’m only 26 this year. I don’t want to fight forever. I want to sit back and say man, look what I did. Maybe when I am done I can start flexing my muscles about it but not yet.”

McGregor’s upcoming boxing bout with Floyd Mayweather on August 26 has shadowed every combat sport since it was announced back in June.

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For Holloway, it’s a “circus” – “It’s like a person with three arms. You want to look away but you can’t” – but he said the one serious thing McGregor had going for him against a man unbeaten in 49 bouts against some of recent boxing history’s greatest boxers is the X factor.

“A lot of people are hating on it,” said Holloway. “But it’s a super fight. Mayweather likes money, Conor likes money and it’s happening.

“Forty-nine guys tried [Mayweather]. It didn’t work. I’m not saying Conor’s the guy, but to shake the game you need something different.

“It’s like taxis. It’s like talking to taxi guys the first time about Uber. They would have said, ‘That’s not going to stick, it’s a stupid as s***’. I’m not saying Conor’s the guy, but it’s interesting.”