Battling Max Holloway Is ‘Bigger Than’ Interim UFC Title Fight

Max Holloway

Getty Max Holloway

No. 4-ranked UFC featherweight Arnold Allen wasn’t chosen to fight for the interim strap last weekend. But, he believes his upcoming contest against former 145-pound champion Max Holloway is “bigger than that opportunity.”

Allen and Holloway, who holds the No. 2 spot in the division, will battle on April 15 during the UFC Fight Night main event in Kansas City, Missouri.

However, the winner isn’t expected to be next up for reigning king Alexander Volkanovsi. No. 1 Yair Rodriguez and No. 5 Josh Emmett competed for the interim belt at UFC 284 this past weekend, and Rodriguez earned the championship via second-round triangle choke — cementing his opportunity to fight for undisputed gold.

Allen Thinks Fighting Holloway Is a Bigger Opportunity Than Hoisting Interim Gold

Well, not holding the interim strap is okay with “Almighty,” which is what he pointed to when appearing on MMA Fighting’s “The MMA Hour” this Monday. Allen explained why Holloway was a bigger fight in his eyes.

“It was the matchup I was hoping for when they announced the interim fight,” Allen said. “So I was kind of — not surprised, I was expecting it. But then the UFC doesn’t always do what you expect. Sometimes they come out of left field with some, and I’m like, ‘Hang on a minute, what’s going on there?’ But in a way I was sort of relieved, because that was the next best option out there that wasn’t an interim title shot. For me, I think this is bigger than that opportunity.

“All respect to Yair, but Max beat him the last time out.”

“Also, given the fights he’s had with Volkanovski,” Almighty continued. “I scored the second one for Max Holloway, and how impressive Alex has been looking, that makes Max look even better. How competitive he’s been. Obviously the last fight wasn’t very competitive, but they’ve been very close decisions, and Volkanovski’s gone up in weight against someone nobody wants to fight and has looked amazing, and I thought he won.”

Allen Isn’t Convinced Damage Is Catching Up to Holloway

Holloway lands an impressive 7.24 significant strikes per minute and he has the record for most significant strikes landed inside the Octagon with 2975, per UFC Stats. But, “Blessed” also has a high significant strikes absorbed per minute stat: 4.89.

At 31, Holloway has engaged in several UFC wars, including his trilogy series with Volkanovski and a back-and-forth five-round classic with Rodriguez. Volkanovski was a step ahead of Holloway during their third meeting in July, defeating Blessed via unanimous decision and putting a stamp on their rivalry. Some believe that Holloway’s performance was due to the damage he’s taken in his Hall of Fame career. But, Allen is unsure about that.

“He’s only human,” Allen said. “The damage has got to catch up to you. He’s not much older than me, but he’s been in crazy fights for a long time against top-tier athletes. He’s given a lot of damage, but he always takes as much as he gives as well. But it’s hard to say, really. He’s there to be hit, he takes a lot of damage, but Volkanovski is Volkanovski. He’s looked better every time he fights, he steps up a level every time he fights… So I’m preparing for the best version. I’m training for the best.”

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