This is a fight that many MMA fans would have been expecting to be for the title not so long ago, but as it stands that won’t be the case.
Max Holloway is in the conversation for greatest featherweight of all-time, with three successful title defences and wins over the likes of Jose Aldo (twice, by knockout), Frankie Edgar, Brian Ortega, Jeremy Stephens, Anthony Pettis and more in his career.
Zabit Magomedsharipov is one of the most exciting prospects at 145lbs that we’ve seen for a very long time, currently 6-0 in the UFC and unbeaten since 2013.
The Russian has an arsenal of spinning attacks, that goes hand in hand with his dynamic striking and excellent range management. This has seen him beat the likes of Calvin Kattar and Jeremy Stephens on the feet, but he is also a whizz on the ground too.
Zabit has three submission wins in the UFC, including an amazing ‘Suloev stretch’ against Brandon Davis in 2018. The one issue he does have is durability, with so many of his fights not making it to the octagon.
Holloway is always down to fight anyone, anywhere and their paths seem destined to cross at some point. So why not in 2021?
‘Blessed’ while open 2021 as the main event of the year’s first card, when he takes on Calvin Kattar in his first non-title fight since UFC 199 in 2016 against Ricardo Lamas.
After consecutive losses against champion Alexander Volkanovski, Holloway has had to take a back-seat to a title charge in a similar way to Robert Whittaker when he lost to Israel Adesanya. But the Aussie got two wins back-to-back against top contenders to put himself back at the front of the queue and that is something that ‘Blessed’ should look to do too.
A win over Kattar on Fight Island keeps him among the top of the rankings in the featherweight division. With Zabit’s fight against Yair Rodriguez once again on the shelf following the Mexican’s USADA ban for not providing his whereabouts, he is without a bout.
Brian Ortega will challenge for the title at some point this year, which leaves only the ‘Korean Zombie’ Chan Sung Jung as a top five fighter without an opponent. If Zabit fights him and wins, that would surely set up a fight between these two competitors for the next title fight.
Two excellent strikers in the hunt for gold, it would be an exciting match up for fans and also one with high stakes involved too.
Doesn’t get much better than that. Make it happen Dana!