UFC champ Ilia Topuria says he’ll only accept Max Holloway fight if BMF title at stake

Ilia Topuria has revealed a major stipulation before he agrees to defend his UFC featherweight title against Max Holloway.

Topuria (15-0 MMA, 7-0 UFC) expects his first title defense after claiming the belt from Alexander Volkanovski in February to come against newly crowned BMF champ Holloway (26-7 MMA, 22-7 UFC), who dazzled the combat sports world this past weekend with a buzzer-beater knockout of Justin Gaethje at UFC 300.

Holloway made it clear he wanted to fight Topuria in the aftermath of UFC 300, and “El Matador” has shared similar sentiments. However, Topuria is refusing to be the only person to put his belt on the line. He demands Holloway put his BMF belt at stake, too, otherwise he’s not interested.

“Without the BMF belt, I don’t want him at all,” Topuria said on Monday’s episode of “The MMA Hour” with Ariel Helwani. “If not, I’m going to fight with Volkanovski, who deserves the rematch more than him. Because he has that belt, I’m excited about that. That’s why I want him. He’s been saying, ‘Right now I have a lot of options’ and this and that. He doesn’t have any options.

“I’m the champion right now. I choose the date. I choose the place. He just has to be ready. He has to wait for the call. Whenever I want him, he has to be ready.”

Topuria, who is the only current UFC champ with an undefeated record, likes his chances against his Hawaiian foe. Holloway holds the record for most UFC fights without being knocked down and has legendary durability, as well as the confidence of coming off an all-time moment. But Topuria vows to bring an end to all of that.

“He can say whatever he wants to say,” Topuria said. “That I’m running and that he’s the bull and all that. Come on, man. Just bring the same energy you had in the last 10 seconds (against Gaethje), but bring it in the first 10 seconds. Let’s see what’s going to happen. Let’s bang. And we’ll see what’s going to happen. I know that I’m going to be the first to turn his lights out.

“I know that I’m way better than him everywhere. I can do with him whatever I want to do. I can just ask him, ‘How you want me to finish you? You want me to knock you out? You want me to submit you? What you want me to do?'”

Assuming Holloway and the UFC oblige the BMF title stipulation, Topuria said he expects to be ready to schedule a fight with Holloway in September, potentially at UFC 306 at the Sphere in Las Vegas.

Topuria ultimately thinks it’s the right fight to make, because although Volkanovski is deserving of an immediate rematch, Topuria still thinks the former champ needs more time away from competition following a brutal UFC 298 defeat.

“I think he needs more time for the recovery,” Topuria said. “Even if we fight at the end of the year and I knock him out, it’s going to be like, ‘He didn’t have the time to recovery, he got knocked out three times in one year.’ I just want the best for him. I want the best version of Volkanovski. He needs more time. Once he recovers and feels like he’s ready, we’re going to run it back. No problem.”

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Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie