What’s next for the Blessed Express?

Max Holloway is back.

Just when you begin to question the staying power of the former featherweight king, ‘Blessed’ delivers another quality performance and defeats an up-and-coming contender.

A minority of fans, fighters and pundits alike had begun to write Holloway off after three defeats to the reigning champion Alexander Volkanovski, but last weekend the Hawaiian proved to the world of martial arts that he is still a serious contender in the featherweight division. In his own words, he is still here.

Britain’s Arnold Allen is the latest rising star to come up short against Holloway. Allen gave a good account of himself, but ultimately could not figure out a way past one of the best to ever do it at this weight class.

Holloway bested Allen over five rounds with some excellent footwork, creating angles to evade his opponent’s attacks and countering expertly. Usually fighting in the orthodox stance, Holloway opted for southpaw during the majority of this fight and landed signature combinations as Allen pressed forward.

Holloway, usually the more aggressive fighter, was patient and calculated during the bout. Even though he wasn’t his relentless self, he was still very active and was always ahead in significant strikes. He deserved this victory over the 29-year-old Allen, but the question is, where does Max go from here?

Alexander ‘The Great’ Volkanovski will attempt to defend his title against interim champion Yair Rodríguez in a fight that could take place at UFC 290 in July. If Volkanovski is successful, it is unlikely that Holloway will get another shot at the belt straight away, unless Volk decides to relinquish his title and focus on the lightweight division. If the Mexican shocks the world and beats the pound-for-pound number two, we could see an immediate rematch.

Holloway defeated Rodríguez back in late 2021 in a thrilling fight in Vegas. The two may well meet again down the line, but will it be for the strap?

After his win against Allen, Holloway called out fellow veteran ‘The Korean ‘Zombie’ Chan Sung Jung at the post-fight press conference. “I would love that fight. If Korean Zombie wants to get it, he can get it,” said Holloway. It has the potential to be a fun fight, but personally, I think Max is a terrible matchup for TKZ at this stage of their respective careers and believe ‘Blessed’ would win handily. Holloway may need to win two or three more times before he has another shot at the belt though, so there may be no harm in taking this fight.

There is no denying that Holloway is in a tough spot. He has beaten all other contenders in the division and another title fight at 145 in the near future looks to be unrealistic. Now might be the time to consider moving up to lightweight and staying there. When he fought Dustin Poirier for the interim lightweight title in 2019, he held his own and impressed, but the power difference was apparent. If Max manages his body correctly, I think he could do well at 155.

The 31-year-old Holloway may have made his UFC debut way back in 2012, but the win over Allen proved he still has a lot left in the tank. He is short of matchups at this point in time, but I don’t think we will have to wait very long until we see him back in the Octagon, whether that is at featherweight or lightweight. The Blessed Express continues to roll on and doesn’t look like slowing down any time soon.



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