Max Holloway pulls out of UFC 226 featherweight title defense with medical concerns

UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway won’t defend his belt at Saturday’s UFC 226 after withdrawing with medical concerns. (AP)
UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway won’t defend his belt at Saturday’s UFC 226 after withdrawing with medical concerns. (AP)

Featherweight champion Max Holloway won’t defend his title against top contender Brian Ortega at Saturday’s UFC 226 after pulling out with medical concerns.

Holloway experiencing ‘concussion-like’ symptoms

ESPN’s Ariel Helwani shared a message from Holloway’s management team on Wednesday that Holloway has been suffering from mysterious concussion-like symptoms and convinced him to withdraw out of concern for his health.

ESPN’s Ariel Helwani shared a statement from his management team:

Max’s team and UFC staff noticed Max was not normal since late last week. This became obvious to many watching his interviews and public appearances the past few days.

He was showing concussion-like symptoms before he even started his weight cut and was rushed to the ER on Monday where they admitted him overnight. Initial scans seemed okay, and he was released Tuesday afternoon, but symptoms still continued.

Max fought with his team to continue with the fight. He showed some improvement over the next day but was still showing obvious symptoms. After open workouts, he crashed and was very hard to wake up. When he did, he had flashing vision and slurred speech.

He is now back in the ER for further tests.

Another blow for Holloway

Beyond the obvious health scare, the news continues a bad run for Holloway, who has had to pull out of his prior two scheduled fights in March and April. Holloway withdrew from the UFC 222 main event against Frankie Edgar in March after injuring his leg in training.

He then was slated to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov for the lightweight title in April, but had to withdraw when the New York fighting commission wouldn’t allow him to cut additional weight.

The news is also another blow for UFC, which has seen numerous high-profile fights cancelled or changed this year. USA Today’s Mike Bohn notes that this is the 17th time UFC has lost a big fight in 2018.

Holloway still looking to build on to legacy

Holloway, 26, has successfully defended his title twice and is one of the sport’s rising stars. He referred to UFC 226 as the “Super Bowl” of UFC prior to withdrawing and is surely disappointed at another failed fight.

“It just was depressing, man,” Holloway said of his inability to fight in March and April. “That was, look, I was used to fighting two to four times a year. Last year, I had two. The year before that I think I had two. This year is my first one and I’m supposed to have two. The depressing stuff was it got taken away from me.”

“You want to be a part of the big card,” Holloway said. “You want to be part of history. … It means a lot to me to be able to have this spot on this card. This is like the Super Bowl of the UFC, a blockbuster, a big blockbuster hit that comes out in the summer, this is it.”

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