Gaethje and Holloway Add to Stacked UFC 300 Card
Dana White and the UFC are determined to make UFC 300 the most well-rounded and exceptional card as the bouts ooze quality. The latest addition is this lightweight match between Justin Gaethje and Max Holloway – but what are the wider implications of this fight?
Is Holloway Stepping Up to Lightweight?
Max Holloway is the current #1 ranked contender for the featherweight championship, meaning that he will be able to get a title shot against Alexander Volkanovski soon. Yet he’s not fighting at featherweight at UFC 300. The official website and other MMA news websites have detailed that his contest with Justin Gaethje is a lightweight fight.
This is the first time Holloway will have fought at lightweight since 2012 when he was still fighting for Unorthodox Industries Championships in Hawaii. Upon entering the UFC, he immediately shifted to featherweight. That’s not to say he wasn’t successful at lightweight as he did at one time hold the X-1 Lightweight Championship.
If he is able to get the win over Gaethje here, there would be a credible argument that Holloway could fight for the lightweight championship instead if that is his long-term desire. Fighters like Charles Oliveira and Arman Tsarukyan (who are also fighting on the same card) will have to take notice of Holloway in the division.
However, if he comes up short, it’s an easy get-out for him to say he’s not comfortable being this heavy and can return to featherweight. Subsequently, he’d be able to explain that he stepped up to the weight division in order to help facilitate the biggest fight possible for the landmark UFC 300 card.
Gaethje More Comfortable at Lightweight
With these combatants listed in separate UFC rankings, there was always going to be speculation as to what weight the fight would be at. However, Gaethje has almost exclusively fought at lightweight. The UFC has ruled in his favor, and commissioned the fight at lightweight which surely plays into Gaethje’s favor.
He’s a former interim lightweight champion and has had two matches for the full championship. This is a man who is incredibly well-versed in this division. By comparison, Holloway is competing in his first UFC fight in this particular weight classification.
The question is, however, what is in it for Gaethje? By default, he’s expected to win because of his experience at this weight. So if he wins, is it really an achievement? Defeating Max Holloway is still a decent achievement to have on his record, but in terms of moving up the lightweight rankings, it doesn’t move the needle too much. Those specific standings will also be impacted by the result of the Charles Oliveira and Arman Tsarukyan fight on the same night.
If successful, Gaethje should have himself a match lined up with the winner of the aforementioned match. Or he could bypass those two and end up fighting Islam Makhachev for the championship. Yet, if he loses, it will seriously stunt his chances of getting back to the top of the UFC lightweight mountain.
Contrast of Styles
‘Styles make fights’ is a phrase that is often touted by MMA news sites and other combat sports pundits. There’s no better way of defining the phrase than with these two fighters, who have very different combat styles as well as their approaches to dealing with their opponents. Justin Gaethje trained as a wrestler and won multiple accolades while enrolled in his college program within the NCAA ranks. Since becoming a pro fighter in MMA, he’s become more of a knockout specialist, as shown by his 20 wins from his 29 career matches.
Given that Gaethje is more comfortable at this weight and has a penchant for ending fights, it would be easy to chalk up another KO win for him before the fighters even get in the cage. Well, that would be the case if it wasn’t for Holloway’s record. Holloway hasn’t lost that many fights across his career: only seven. However, he’s never been knocked out. Six of his defeats went to the judges, while the other loss came via submission. The time he tapped out came over ten years ago in his UFC debut, which was a long time ago now.
His opponent, Max Holloway, trained extensively in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu before becoming a MMA fighter. That training has led to him becoming one of the most well-rounded fighters, as his victories are almost split down the middle, with 12 coming by decision and 11 by way of KO. He’s able to stay in fights with his intense cardiovascular fitness and work for openings while evading shots.
Could the UFC offer a Superficial Title for this Fight?
The UFC has the chance to make MMA breaking news if they were to introduce a new title or trophy for this fight. While the fighters have agreed to contest it under lightweight rules, it would be an interesting concept to introduce an in-between title, especially as the lines between weight divisions haven’t been more blurred.
The thought of a championship between featherweight and lightweight open to all participants would be an innovative move to encourage competition between different fighters across the UFC roster. It would also keep fighters active as they wouldn’t have to wait for a meaningful fight or challenge for interim belts.
Then again, Justin Gaethje could just put his ‘Baddest Mother Fucker’ championship on the line. This is a symbolic championship belt, seldom contested and usually just a marker of popularity. However, a fight between top fighters ranked so highly in their respective divisions deserves something to award at the end of the match. There are some reports already speculating that this BMF title will be up for grabs.
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