Josh Emmett loves the idea of facing Max Holloway next: ‘That’s a sure shot to the title’

With his 39th birthday just a few months away, Josh Emmett acknowledges time is likely running out to realize his lifelong dream of becoming UFC champion.

He came close in February when he battled Yair Rodriguez for the interim featherweight title, but he came up short. He then suffered a second straight loss, falling to Ilia Topuria by decision in June. But he bounced back in a big way at UFC 296 after he went scorched earth on Bryce Mitchell, delivering one of the most devastating knockouts in the history of the sport.

In the wake of that jaw-dropping win, Emmett hopes he’ll get the chance to jump back into title contention sooner rather than later in 2024.

“[I want to fight] whoever’s going to get me to that title shot,” Emmett said on The MMA Hour. “This is my last run at the title. I’m doing everything I need to do. I’ll fight whoever I need to, to get to that title. I’d like to fight someone in the top three, No. 1 contender, whoever it is just to get me there.

“[Alexander] Volkanovski and Ilia [Topuria] are fighting in February. In a perfect world, I’d want the winner of that, but I know I need to fight someone at the very top of the crop to get back to where I was earlier.”

While he’s not known for callouts, Emmett knows in a perfect world that there’s only one real choice for his next opponent if he wants to jump the line at 145 pounds.

Former UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway doesn’t currently have a fight booked, and he’s already wiped out nearly every other top contender in the division. Add to that, Holloway’s only losses in recent years came in a trio of title fights with Alexander Volkanovski, which means he’s probably not going to get another shot at gold as long as the Australian remains champion.

That’s why Emmett sees Holloway as the perfect next step in his career.

“Max was — besides Volkanovski — he’s one of the best featherweights of all time,” Emmett said. “That was Max’s position, but I just feel like Max has beat everybody. The only person that has his number is Volkanovski. So he is the No. 1 contender. He’s cleared out pretty much everyone in the division and fought everyone in the featherweight division but myself.

“It would be an honor to fight him. That’s like a sure shot to the title. You go in and beat him, there’s nothing left but to fight for the title. If that’s what the UFC wants to do, hey, let’s do it. I want to fight whoever’s going to get me the title shot, and Max, he is the No. 1 contender.”

Emmett didn’t suffer any injuries in his win over Mitchell at UFC 296, so he plans to get back in the gym in a matter of days. He’s not putting a timeline on his next fight, especially if he can get an opponent like Holloway. But ideally that would happen early in 2024 to set the stage for a title shot before the end of next year.

“I’m going to get back into training this week and take it from there,” Emmett said. “2024 is going to be my year. I’m going to win a fight, and then I’m going to win that title.”

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