UFC 300: Max Holloway has heard your concerns about his bout vs. Justin Gaethje, and he does not care

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 16: Max Holloway is seen on stage during a UFC 300 Q&A at Honda Center on February 16, 2024 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Max Holloway stays focused on the task at hand while dismissing critics’ concerns. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

There are a few things you learn by combing through Max Holloway’s YouTube page.

One is that this is a man who believes in good editing and solid video production. Another is that he didn’t just use this move up in weight to fight Justin Gaethje for the ceremonial “BMF” title at UFC 300 as an excuse to slack off on his diet, but rather to bulk up and add some new muscle.

Third, and maybe most notable, is that Holloway is a little bit angry these days. Or, well, maybe angry is the wrong word for a man who seems so permanently laid back. But, at the very least, Holloway is annoyed.

This comes up a lot in his videos. He seems to be having an ongoing conversation with all the people who think it’s a mistake for him to go up to 155 pounds (again) and fight a heavy-hitter like Gaethje, especially after his last foray into a higher weight class resulted in a decision loss to Dustin Poirier that snapped a 13-fight winning streak.

“Just look at the comments,” Holloway told Yahoo Sports this week. “The YouTube comments, the comments on all my posts. It’s just people being people.”

It’s true that the comments section for many of Holloway’s videos seems to be overflowing with unsolicited yet somehow painfully earnest advice. This includes everything from armchair scouting reports on Gaethje (watch out for the leg kicks and left hook, just in case that hadn’t occurred to you yet), to detailed breakdowns of Holloway’s own sparring footage (some commenters will offer time stamps of the exact moments where they see the former UFC featherweight champ making major technical errors).

It also includes more than a few people who express varying levels of concern about this fight. Some cite Holloway’s 2019 loss to Poirier for the interim lightweight title, while seemingly forgetting that it was a close decision loss and a Fight of the Night recipient rather than a one-sided blowout.

Others insist that with a new champ at featherweight, the smarter thing for Holloway would be to stay home at 145 pounds and make his case for a crack at new titleholder Ilia Topuria now that longtime nemesis Alexander Volkanovski is out of the way.

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 16: (L-R) Opponents Justin Gaethje and Max Holloway face off during a UFC 300 Q&A at Honda Center on February 16, 2024 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 16: (L-R) Opponents Justin Gaethje and Max Holloway face off during a UFC 300 Q&A at Honda Center on February 16, 2024 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Justin Gaethje and Max Holloway will fight for the ceremonial “BMF” title on April 13 at UFC 300 inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Holloway has heard this bit of well-meaning advice. He understands the reasoning behind it, he said. He also rejects it entirely, for two completely different reasons.

The first reason is practical in nature.

“With Topuria, no matter what way he won, I felt like there’s no way Alex doesn’t get a direct rematch,” Holloway said. “I mean, with everything he’s done, how do you not give him the rematch? That’s crazy talk after everything he did in the featherweight division. For people to think he hasn’t earned a direct rematch, that’s kind of mind-blowing to me.”

The second reason is less calculated and more ephemeral. The way Holloway sees it, yes, a fight with Gaethje is a scary prospect. He’s known as one of the hardest hitters at lightweight, which makes him an especially dangerous man for anyone moving up from featherweight.

But, as Holloway is quick to point out, those are the kinds of fights you should be looking for if you want to leave a lasting mark on this sport.

“I think Gaethje’s a future [UFC] Hall of Famer,” Holloway said. “If you want a legendary career, those are the guys you need to add to your list. … I’m only 32, and I still feel like I have a lot to prove. If you’re at a point where you have nothing left to prove, what are you fighting for? I still want to get an undisputed title back. If I can get two, I still want to get two. But first is Gaethje, and I know I can shake up a whole lot of things with a win on April 13.”