This past Sunday, Max Holloway was playing video games with his son, Rush, at home in Waianae. Then all of the sudden, the phone rang.
That call was from the UFC, asking the organization’s 145-pound champion to step up a weight class to fight one of the most feared fighters in MMA, Khabib Nurmagomedov. Holloway didn’t think twice: He accepted the fight and made calls to get his team of coaches ready to board a plane later that night.
But one coach in particular, Rylan Lizares, might have taken a little more convincing that this wasn’t an April Fool’s Day joke. After all, Rylan’s wife had just given birth the day before and he didn’t want to leave his family for no good reason.
“We literally got the call in the hospital,”said Lizares, Holloway’s Brazilian jiu-jitsu and wrestling coach, in a FaceTime interview from New York. “It was surprising, of course.”
Luckily for Lizares, his wife was very understanding.
“She knows that this could happen,” Lizares said. “I think all of the wives know that at any time, you can get a call.”
It's been a hectic few days for Lizares, Holloway and the entire MMA community. And when you throw in today’s events involving UFC lightweight champion -- for the time being -- Conor McGregor and his team, this has been a fight week build up unlike any other.
And on just six days notice, preparation for a fight against Nurmagomedov for Holloway has been unlike anything he and his team have done before.
“On one week notice, you don’t prepare for a guy like that,” Lizares said. “Basically, a guy like Max has been preparing for a guy like Khabib his whole life. I think from a coaching standpoint, when I train max for any fight, we’re preparing for a Khabib.”
During yesterday’s press conference, Holloway mad a point to say that he’s not the only one fighting on short notice as Nurmagomedov will also have to prepare differently for Holloway than he would’ve for Tony Ferguson.
Styles make fights as the saying goes, and Lizares says that this fight will show the world what type of fighter Holloway really is.
“It’s not different from any fight,” he said. “Of course, Khabib has his own skill-set, things that we haven’t seen before or he hasn’t been in the cage with, but that’s what really makes the fight.”
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