Max Holloway is finally ready to make his long-awaited return to the Octagon in the UFC 231 headliner when he finally takes on undefeated featherweight rising star Brian Ortega in a highly anticipated encounter for the featherweight championship. But it has been a road paved with mystery, depression, and hardship. In an interview with MMAjunkie, Holloway provided a tell-all about what these past few months have been like and what has kept him out of action, which had nothing to do with neither of the two most common guesses: weight cutting and concussion symptoms.
“Everybody keeps saying it was a weight-cut issue,” Holloway began. “Everybody keeps saying it was a concussion issue. They knocked that off the list, so they ain’t got no smoking gun. … I’m just glad that they crossed out the big things. The big things that they thought it was, it wasn’t, so I’m happy for that. But on the opposite side, they don’t have answers, so as long as the symptoms stay away, I’m good.
“I feel great. I can’t wait. The symptoms never, ever came back ever since. We’ve been getting after it in training, too, so I feel great.
“(The UFC) had me on a plan before I could even take this fight, with how I could train,” Holloway said. “They were monitoring me. I was coming in, and no signs of symptoms, so I feel great. I just can’t wait until December comes around, and I get to remind everybody who’s the undisputed champion.
“I just can’t wait to fight, man. It’s been one hell of a year, and I can’t wait to finish it off with a bang.”
Max Holloway also shared the recent struggles with depression that he has recently battled during this stretch that he has been sidelined and lends some heartfelt advice to readers about the gravity of depression and how to combat it:
“I kind of found out what depression is,” Holloway said. “I was at a point where I came home from July, and I didn’t talk to no one. If I wanted to talk to you, I would call you, but if you tried to reach me, I didn’t talk to no one. I was in my own zone.
“It was crazy – I’m a Raptors fan, and it hit me hard when DeMar DeRozan talked about it. He talked about depression, how he wishes everybody in the world … could understand that depression is a real thing. It was crazy. I can talk about now because I’ve been though it, and I can tell people, you know, don’t cut yourself off from other people. Your family, your friends, someone is there. Reach out and talk to them about something. If you’ve got something on your mind, go talk to them.
“I learned a lot about myself this year, and I just can’t wait to get things back to normal and get back to the ‘Blessed Era’ and this fight in December.”
Although the road back hasn’t been easy, this road is still paved with the gold that remains on the Hawaiian’s shoulder, and Max Holloway has no regrets about the struggles he has had to endure on his way back to defend his throne:
“I’m glad obstacles happen,” Holloway said. “I’m a big believer in ‘things happen for a reason,’ and I believe this thing happened for a reason. I believe I got slowed down around this time for a reason, and now we’re going to pick it back up, you know?
“People told me I fell off – well tell me where I left it, because we’re about to go back up, and people are about to find out why I’m one of the best fighters in the world and why I’m going to be No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world someday.”
Do you believe we will see the same Max Holloway at UFC 231 Against Brian Ortega?