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Ilia Topuria claims Max Holloway unavailable for title fight, Holloway fires back with UFC 306 challenge

Max Holloway doesn’t take lightly to being publicly called out.

Reigning UFC featherweight champion Ilia Topuria was in Madrid on Wednesday to promote his upcoming autobiographical documentary, Matador, and he took to the stage to answer a few questions. When asked why he is yet to book his first title defense after defeating Alexander Volkanovski to become champion this past February, Topuria put the onus on his potential opponents. Particularly Holloway.

“It’s not because of me,” Topuria said (translation from Spanish via ESPN MMA). “They called me to say that Max Holloway was having family issues, that he was having trouble cutting weight, and that he wanted to fight in a higher weight class. Honestly, I don’t know. I have no idea.”

Holloway reacted to the translated clip and wrote that Topuria “is just making things up.”

A bout between Topuria and Holloway emerged as a possibility following Holloway’s spectacular last-second knockout of Justin Gaethje in their “BMF” title fight at UFC 300 this past April. That bout was contested at 155 pounds, so the win instantly thrust Holloway into the lightweight title conversation, but the former featherweight champion remains a viable option to compete for 145-pound gold as well.

Since 2014, Holloway’s only losses at featherweight have occurred in a trilogy of fights with Volkanovski. Around those defeats, Holloway has knocked off several ranked opponents including Arnold Allen, Yair Rodriguez, and Calvin Kattar.

Topuria has previously mentioned wanting to face the future Hall of Famer and he made that clear again in his social media response to Holloway.

“Choose a date, choose the way you want me to beat you, and write it here,” Topuria wrote. “I am ready to turn off your lights whenever and wherever. Call [UFC CEO] Dana [White].”

Not long after, Holloway again responded, telling Topuria that he has been in talks with the UFC and then offered a tongue-in-cheek answer to Topuria, daring him to fight at Sphere in Las Vegas for UFC 306 on Sept. 14 and to use a rare submission hold to get the win.

“Since you said it,” Holloway wrote. “The Sphere, by toe hold. See you soon.”

Topuria is 15-0 in pro MMA, including a 7-0 record in the UFC. He has eight career submission victories, with his most recent being an arm-triangle choke of Bryce Mitchell at UFC 282 in December 2022.

The featherweight champion replied to Holloway, showing respect, while also suggesting that he’d like to be the first fighter to finish Holloway by knockout.

“God bless you brother,” Topuria wrote. “Nothing against you! But it brings me great joy to be the first to disconnect you. It seems so fun.”

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