3 possible next opponents for Max Holloway

Here's who we think Max Holloway should fight next after insane knockout of Justin Gaethje.
Apr 13, 2024; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Max Holloway (blue gloves) reacts after defeating Justin
Apr 13, 2024; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Max Holloway (blue gloves) reacts after defeating Justin / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
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2. Islam Makhachev

Holloway's massive win rippled the featherweight and lightweight divisions. Gaethje was the No. 2 ranked lightweight, so Holloway now likely entrenches him in two division's top-five rankings. This gives him massive leverage to call for a title shot with the lightweight champion Makhachev.

He took the center of the Octagon and told the world he wanted a piece of Makhachev right after calling out Topuria, "Even Islam. Islam is famous for defending against 45'ers, right?" A Holloway and Makhachev championship match would be massive for all involved and is more of a possibility than ever before.

While the matchup exists on the horizon, Makhachev was announced to face Dustin Poirier (30-8) at UFC 302. Arman Tsarukyan (22-3) also lurks in the lightweight top five, and his UFC 300 win over Charles Oliveira (34-10) may warrant a title shot after Poirier.

From here, things depend on fighter timelines and how the promotion schedules all parties. If Makhachev defends his title and wishes to stay busy in 2024 or early 2025, and Holloway is around, the fight very well could happen. Considering the contrasts between Holloway's style and history, including how exceptional he looks at lightweight against Makhachev's smothering attack and unbeatable aura, this would potentially be a stellar fight.

3. Aljamain Sterling

Former bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling (24-4) had a strong performance against Calvin Kattar (23-8) in his featherweight debut. He outwrestled Kattar all fight long and showed his ability to control and dominate on top could be a problem for the rest of the division.

Holloway has defeated most of featherweight's biggest names. He's only lost to Volkanovski and likely won't match up with him again immediately due to losing in their three meetings. The fight could certainly happen down the road, but someone like Sterling fits much better in Holloway's potentially immediate plans.

Holloway's eagerness to take chances and face any notable fighter possible could likely end up with him matching against Sterling. Holloway said in his post-fight interview, "Any weight. I'm a gladiator. I don't care. Whoever's next, sign the dotted line." Fighting Sterling could go a long way toward sorting the featherweight title picture out.

Sterling has the wrestling capability to push Holloway and looks strong at featherweight. It's hard to count someone like him out, but he has to conquer a severe striking disadvantage against Holloway. Counting either man out is unwise because both are former world champions.

Holloway's options going forward are all intriguing, as his latest victory over Gaethje asserts his place as one of the biggest fighters on Earth.


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