Triple Take: On Max Holloway's outlook at lightweight based on UFC 236

UFC 236 took place over the weekend, with UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway coming up short in his bid for a second belt. Holloway lost via unanimous decision to Dustin Poirier, who claimed the interim lightweight title after a five-round thriller. 

For Holloway, the result snapped a 13-fight winning streak that dates back to January 2014. Prior to UFC 236, “Blessed” teased the idea of a permanent move to 155 pounds because of the difficulty to make the 145-pound featherweight limit and the potential effect it’s had on health scares that forced him out of fights in 2018. Does the loss to Poirier change things? What did UFC 236 tell us about Holloway’s outlook as a lightweight? MMA Junkie’s Ben Fowlkes, Mike Bohn and Fernanda Prates sound off in this edition of “Triple Take.” 

Ben Fowlkes: Holloway’s a great featherweight, but maybe just a very good lightweight – which is fine

Early on in the fight with Poirier, you could see a pattern taking shape. Holloway would come forward looking loose and easy and relaxed, firing off punch combinations and advancing with confidence. Then Poirier would fire back and sting him, sending him backwards with one or two powerful strikes that made him rethink his whole approach.

This doesn’t usually happen to Holloway at featherweight. But then, he wasn’t at featherweight anymore, a fact which he was rudely reminded of several times in those first couple rounds.

To his credit, Holloway managed to make some adjustments as the fight wore on. Still, Poirier always had that sledgehammer in his back pocket when he needed it. And when that wasn’t enough and he needed a respite from Holloway’s suffocating attack, he could halt the momentum with a takedown attempt against the cage.

Featherweights can’t do this to Holloway. At 145 pounds, he baits people into trying this strategy so he can drown them with sheer volume and punch output. Odds are, most lightweights wouldn’t be able to do it to him either.

But the top tier guys at 155 pounds? Yeah, they might have the power and the resiliency necessary to beat him. Which, honestly, isn’t the worst thing that could possibly happen.

What if it turns out that Holloway is an elite featherweight, but merely a very good lightweight? Wouldn’t that just prove that we have weight classes for a reason? Wouldn’t it give us more reasons to appreciate his willingness to give it a shot anyway?

If Holloway wanted to hang around at lightweight, I’m sure he could. I don’t see him beating guys like Khabib Nurmagomedov or Tony Ferguson there, but it’s not as if his stock dropped following this incredible fight with Poirier. I’d even go so far as to say that, if you gave him five more rounds to work, he might figure this out yet.

All I’m saying is, the things he does so well at featherweight don’t necessarily carry over intact at lightweight. And that’s OK. Maybe it ought to be expected.

Next page – Mike Bohn: No shame in losing to Poirier, putting lightweight move on hold

Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie

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