Ilia Topuria threatens to send Max Holloway to the back of the line, Holloway responds

Ilia Topuria is ready to grant Max Holloway his wish.

Following his all-time great knockout win over Justin Gaethje at UFC 300 on Saturday, Holloway followed up on his plans to call for a fight with featherweight champion Topuria. Throughout fight week, Holloway made a point to mention that Topuria made it to the top of the 145-pound ladder without having to fight him, and now he feels the time is right for Topuria to have to face that test.

To Topuria’s credit, he has agreed to the suggestion, but not without a warning for Holloway.

“It’s clear for me, my next fight is against Max Holloway,” Topuria said (Spanish translation via ESPN’s Carlos Contreras Legaspi). “Congratulations and enjoy tonight, but after fighting me he will have to go back in the line.”

Topuria has yet to be defeated in his pro fighting career, which includes a 7-0 mark in the UFC. After dispatching of contenders Josh Emmett and Bryce Mitchell, Topuria took advantage of a title shot opportunity and finished champion Alexander Volkanovski via strikes in Round 2 at UFC 298. In doing so, he became the first man ever to defeat Volkanovski in a 145-pound bout.

Holloway fell short in three title bouts against “The Great,” but feels he’s done enough to challenge Topuria for the chance to become featherweight champion once more.

“That’s cool,” Holloway said at the evening’s post-fight presser when told of Topuria’s response. “What am I going to say? What if he goes to the back of the line? So at the end of the day, we find out. Like I said, we’ve got questions.

“We’re in the fighting game. Ilia can talk, but I’ve got a lot of questions. I like listening and if that ever gets booked, you guys are going to see a lot of answers. So I’m excited for it.”

Topuria was seated near cageside, so he had a perfect view of the thrilling finish to Saturday’s “BMF” title fight. His reaction was caught on video and depending on how you interpret it, Topuria was either unmoved by the finale or too stunned to react.

Whatever questions Holloway has about Topuria, he knows there’s only one way to get them sorted.

“Everybody’s like, ‘Oh, he’s like whatever,’ but I don’t know the dude,” Holloway said of Topuria’s reaction. “You don’t know if he’s socially awkward or something, so maybe that’s just what he is. Fair play to him, I don’t know how animated or whatever he is, so I ain’t going to take it.

“This guy is a world champion, he’s a killer, but like I said all fight week, we’ve got questions. There’s a lot of questions about the guy and I want to figure that out.”

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