Max Holloway returns home after wild UFC 223 experience

Hawaii's UFC featherweight champion Max "Blessed" Holloway arrived back home in good spirits Sunday afternoon after a long non-stop flight home from New York City.

Just two days after he was deemed unfit to fight for the lightweight title against new champ Khabib Nurmagomedov by the New York State Athletic Commission during his weight cut, Holloway opened up for the first time on his controversial weight cut.

"They checked vitals in the morning one. In the night one, they just didn't like the way I looked," Holloway said. 

“It wasn't just one day. It was over the days," Holloway said of the NYSAC monitoring his reported large weight cut.

"When I first got in there the first week, the commission was with me the whole way. Through the whole weight cut. We was doing the weight cut, I had to check in every day they came checking in on the room. The weight cut day, I was cutting weight. They checked me early in the night, went to sleep, they came and checked me early in the morning right before weigh-ins. We had a couple of more to go and they called it,” Holloway explained.

"They took it from us, and that's not their fault. They're doing their job," Holloway added. "They're watching out for me, so I respect their job. I have no ill will against them. Things like this happen."

Holloway was thankful that the NYSAC is looking out for the fighters, but still wanted the chance to make 155 pounds after he said he was close with an hour left. 

"The fighter in me was mad when they called it," Holloway candidly added. 

"The fighter in me wanted to fight no matter what, but they're doctors and they checked my vitals before. Even if they didn't check them that time, they know what they are. You know what they're looking for, we know how we feel," Holloway said.

Now Max wants to look ahead to defending his 145 lb. belt with time to prepare for his future bout. This week, UFC President Dana White told reporters that top contender Brian Ortega would be next on the docket for Holloway.

Max has a couple of dates and locations in mind for that bout: July 7 in Las Vegas or August 4 in Los Angeles. 

"July 7th is something I want to get on (Daniel Cormier's) card," Holloway said of UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier, who is scheduled to face heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic for the 265 lb. title July 7.

"Me and my man D.C., I don't know how we became friends. I don't know how we did it, but we're like the new Rob and Big I guess. I don't know. It's so funny people in the MMA world have been loving us," Holloway said.

Holloway originally won his undisputed title with his 2017 victory over Jose Aldo in Aldo's home country of Brazil. Max wouldn't be opposed to hitting the road again to hostile territory. 

"I saw Ortega was there," Max said of UFC 223.  

"Ortega kept talking about 'wish it was him' and blah blah this and that. I don't know things happen for a reason, so I can't wait to fight him. If that's the next guy up that's the next guy up and I can't wait to do the damn thing and get it done. If not, I heard they just announced the LA card in August. It'll be fun going into another kings home to go dethrone a king again so it'd be great," Holloway said.

Despite the move back to featherweight, Holloway didn't rule out a future in the lightweight division. 

"Nothing to mope around Hawaii, we still got a throne to defend. Whenever they want me to step up against Ortega, we're going to do it and when they make the call back to (155) I'll be ready," Holloway said.