UFC champ Ilia Topuria adamant that Max Holloway must put up the BMF belt for a title fight

MMA: UFC Fight Night - Jacksonville - Emmett vs Topuria
David Yeazell-USA TODAY Sports

Back in February at UFC 298, Ilia Topuria (15-0) completed his mission to the top of the mountain when he knocked out Alexander Volkanovski (26-4) in the second round of their featherweight title fight. In that moment, he became the best in the world at 145 after dethroning the man who dominated 145 for years.

After the fight, the initial thought was that Volkanovski would likely get the immediate rematch considering his history at 145 including his three wins over Max Holloway (26-7) and his dominant win over Brian Ortega (16-3). However, after the title fight with Volk, both Ortega and Holloway had the opportunity to get their name into the mix for the next title fight.

Brian Ortega took on Yair Rodriguez in Mexico City. After getting dropped and hurt badly in the first round, T-City reversed his fortunes and dominated the second round with his grappling. He took Rodriguez down in the third round and submitted him for his first win in over three years.

From there, the attention turned to Max Holloway. Holloway was challenging arguably the most dangerous lightweight in the world in Justin Gaethje at UFC 300 for the BMF title. Holloway had won two straight at 145 since his third loss to Alexander Volkanovski. Holloway was in limbo so he took the BMF title fight which was booked while Volkanovski was still the champion at 145.

Holloway put on the performance of his career. He dominated and outclassed Justin Gaethje over the course of five rounds. Then, in the final ten seconds, Holloway pointed to the ground and both men threw haymakers. Holloway landed the perfect right for arguably the greatest knockout in UFC history and one that crowned him the BMF champion.

Who is next for UFC champ Ilia Topuria?

Topuria was sitting in the front row to witness the knockout and he heard Max Holloway call him out after the fight. The champion sat there and listed to the callout and has seemed intrigued with the idea of fighting Max Holloway. However, there’s a condition. Topuria wants Holloway to put up the BMF title in their potential featherweight title fight.

Think of it like a unique title unification bout. I actually like the idea, but Holloway has pointed out that you don’t just get to ask for a BMF title fight and have it materialize. The BMF belt has been contested for twice and both times it’s been by four guys who have really put in the work throughout their UFC career and earned that shot. Holloway doesn’t think Topuria has earned that right, but he is willing to do it.

Now, what about Alexander Volkanovski? In my opinion, Volk deserves a rematch. He dominated Brian Ortega and he has three wins over Max Holloway in title fights and the final fight was a brutal beat down for five rounds. Volk has defeated Jose Aldo, three wins over Holloway, a standing knockout over The Korean Zombie, and a dominant five round decision win over Ortega. He’s also been the UFC’s ideal company man stepping up whenever they need him. On merit, I want to see him get the shot.

The one I don’t understand is Brian Ortega. Topuria’s position is that he’s a fresh opponent coming off a big win at 145 over Yair Rodriguez. While that’s true, T-City was also utterly dominated by both Max Holloway and Alexander Volkanovski. If were comparing the three, he should be a distant third in terms of the options.

For the UFC, it seems rather obvious what should be next depending on what they want. If they want the most hype, you go with Max Holloway coming off that BMF title win. You want to go with merit, you give Volkanovski his rematch. If you give Ortega the shot, it gives the impression that your new featherweight champion is dodging the toughest two challenges to his throne. Not really the way I think they want to start his title reign.

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