The MMA community will have to wait longer for the trilogy between Max Holloway vs. Alexander Volkanovski.
2022 is off to a heartbreaking start
Literally, one day after the trilogy between featherweight champion Volkanovski and Holloway was set, “Blessed” has aggravated a previous injury and has been forced to withdraw from the fight, according to ESPN.
The pair was scheduled to headline UFC 272 on March 5 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, with another rematch taking place in the co-main event.
The trail to get back
After losing the immediate rematch to Volkanovski, Holloway put on a master class against Calvin Kattar to kick off the UFC’s killer 2021. He then ended his year in a Fight of the Year contender, welcoming back Yair Rodriguez and defeating him via unanimous decision.
While there are several hungry contenders in the featherweight division, even the champion, who defeated Holloway twice, knew he was deserving of the trilogy and said so during his UFC 266 post-fight conference and after Holloway defeated Rodriguez.
Options, options, options
Volkanovski has stated he wants to be active and not sit out as he did in 2021. So with that being said, there are three clear options for “The Great.”
Giga Chikadze – If Chikadze defeats Kattar next Saturday with minimal damage, he could turn around and go right back into camp and challenge for the title. The Georgian fighter is riding a nine-fight win streak, with seven of those coming in the UFC. he is ranked No. 8 in the featherweight division.
Josh Emmett – Emmett returned from a lengthy layoff in December as he defeated Dan Ige via unanimous decision. Emmett is ranked No. 6 in the division and is riding a four-fight win streak with wins over Shane Burgos, Michael Johnson, and Mirsad Bektić. The 36-year old has always been a company man and has fought opponents behind him in the rankings while asking to fight someone ahead of him. With him being on the backend of his career, Emmett finally getting a title shot makes sense.
Henry Cejudo – Ah, yes, “Triple C.” Whenever something big happens in the flyweight, bantamweight or featherweight division, he always sticks his name in the middle of it. If there were ever a time for him to come back and fight for a third title to make UFC history, it would be now. There will be hoops to jump through, such as getting back into the USADA testing pool.
As for some other notable names, per sources, The Korean Zombie has a bad shoulder injury but is willing to step up; Arnold Allen, who is super overlooked and underrated, might need one more big name, and Brian Ortega just lost to Volkanovski. Zabit Magomedsharipov is another looming name, but no one knows if he is really returning in 2022.