WHILE some in the sport are referring to the Max Holloway and Yair Rodriguez MMA clash as potentially the fight of the year, the focus in the build-up has been talking up the Hawaiian as a potential opponent for Conor McGregor’s comeback fight in 2022.
The fight game never stands still, and with McGregor still retaining the pulling power with the TV stations and websites looking to screen his fights live, there is a constant need to keep the Irishman in the spotlight.
Holloway knows any face off with McGregor will potentially be the most lucrative fight of his career, and is more than happy to talk up a battle next year.
However, the 29-year-old from Honolulu has the small matter of Rodriguez coming up, with the bookies seeing little to deter Holloway’s ambitions of a money-spinning fight with McGregor.
Holloway has been installed as hot favorite for the win, his odds of 2/11 are far from inviting – place $11 with bet365 promo code on Holloway and get $13 back if he wins. Rodriguez is trading at 4/1, which is probably more to do with his relative inactivity of late rather than his skills in the octagon.
It will be the Mexican’s first UFC fight since he took on Jeremy Stephens in October 2019, winning unanimously on points after their first fight a month earlier was declared a no-contest after an eye poke prevented Stephens continuing.
If he can overcome any rustiness after his long lay-off, he could provide the toughest of tests for Holloway who remains on the comeback trail after losing back-to-back UFC featherweight title contests with Alexander Volkanovski – the second controversially on a split decision. He put in a performance of high quality in his win over Calvin Kattar earlier this year but Rodriguez’s style, seen as flashy in some quarters, will provide a wholly different test.
If he can beat the Mexican, then he will be in line for a rematch with McGregor – the Irish fighter winning on points when they clashed at featherweight in 2013. The problem with the plan is McGregor’s fitness, with the 33-year-old still recovering from a leg break sustained in his third encounter with Dustin Poirier; McGregor underwent surgery in July and is only three months into his rehab.
Despite McGregor’s upbeat mood after the operation, it is difficult to judge the extent of the damage until he’s ready to fight again – the injury was bizarre with McGregor stumbling backwards and trapping his foot under himself. It seems unlikely he will be ready to fight until the summer at the earliest, and reports already suggest that a trilogy fight for Holloway with Volkanovski may take place before any McGregor bout. The fact that Holloway would have to move up to 155lbs to face McGregor means it would make fighting sense to take a third fight against Volkanovski before switching to lightweight.
But Holloway has fought at lightweight before, losing out to Poirier in 2019. With Poirier having faced both fighters, he seems best equipped to give a verdict on a potential clash between the two.
“Conor’s definitely the better puncher,” Poirier said earlier this year, when asked who would win between McGregor and Holloway. “It seems like Max puts things together and is in position to throw combinations better. I think Max Holloway.”