KHON2 sports director Rob DeMello is in Las Vegas for UFC’s International Fight Week. Today, he went one-on-one with reigning featherweight champion, Waianae’s own Max Holloway, at the T-Mobile Arena. Stay tuned for more special reports from the “Ninth Island” through the weekend.
RD: Back on June 3, you said, ‘Welcome to the Blessed era.’ This is your first big event since then. Does it feel like the Blessed era? Can you feel a difference as far as the vibe goes now that you’re champ?
MH: Yeah, man. That is a big difference. I owe it to the hotel room I’m in. (laughs) I’m just joking. I’m just enjoying the perks. A lot of fans recognize me now. A lot of fans are loving it. They’re loving the Blessed era, and you definitely see a difference. I can’t wait. I can’t wait for the future, I can’t wait to actually get a fight, and I can’t wait to just, you know, put on for Hawaii.
RD: You said earlier this week that you’re hoping to meet with UFC brass including president Dana White this week. Did that happen yet? If so, what came out of it?
MH: We’re still in talks. We sat down with one guy, we talked, and we stayed there. We’re not there yet. We’re not there yet, but it’s business. It’s a business thing, and I’m not going to put my business out there for everyone. It’s between me and UFC and we’re figuring it out. At the end of the day, I know they’re going to do the right thing. They’ve been taking care of me over and over again, and I know they’re going to take care of me. We’ll come to a decision, and I just can’t wait to get a fight.
RD: I’m sure you heard Dana White make the comments earlier about UFC Hawaii and its potential. Obviously an outdoor event is something that he’s not too keen on, but he said, ‘Never say never.’ Is there anything that you’re trying to do to push that along and not give up on it?
MH: Yeah, yeah, for sure. The fans, you guys, man. You guys have the biggest thing. It’s called social media. If you guys want it, you guys can make it happen. We saw a bunch of things unfold because of social media. Let’s get on it and keep on it. This guy, you know, c’mon Dana. Dana, you’re not sugar, brah. A little rain is not going to melt you, brah. If anything, we’re going to salt the sugar, come on brother. I’m just joking. But yeah, you know, get down.
I was talking to another guy. I was talking to TMZ before I came out, and I told him. They said make a pitch, and the pitch is, Dana White don’t owe it to our fighters. I want to fight really bad in UFC, but you know who he owes it to? Everybody in the back. All his workers in the back, they deserve a vacation, and what better place than Hawaii, Dana, let’s go. Bring them down, give them the vacation they deserve, and let us fighters put in work.
We’ve got a bunch of guys. We can do a Hawaii versus everyone card. We’ve got three guys going on top the contender now. We’ve got about five to eight guys in the UFC right now. That’s a whole card already. A card is like 11 fighters. We’re there, and it’s time to make it happen. Time is now. We’ve got a champion, we’ve got a couple more coming up, and the time is now. It’s going to be fun.
RD: You talk a lot about the stadium, but is there an option out there that you’re going to try and push for? The Stan Sheriff even, 10,000 seats. That’s not too shabby.
MH: That’s not too shabby, but they keep saying they want it big. I want it big. I want a stadium. I want 50-something-thousand people screaming my name in that stadium. Man, it’s giving me goosebumps, chicken skin thinking about it, talking about it right now. We’ll see. If we got to do Stan Sheriff, we’ll do Stan Sheriff. It’s going to look like the olden days, you know, when you see when Robbie Lawler them was fighting in the Blaisdell and stuff. That was only 8,000. Imagine Stan Sheriff, two, actually more, probably like 4,000 more. Put some little stuff on top the ground and stuff, around the cage, the chairs. Man, I think it’s going to be great. I think it’s going to happen. I think next year it happens. I just got to do my job. I want to fight one more time this year, at least one more time. I’ve got to keep my belt, keep making that push.
RD: Calendar-wise, how soon do you think you’ll be fighting?
MH: We’ll see. I have no idea when I’m fighting again. We’re talking business. We’re talking business, and at the end of the day, I think we’ll come to a conclusion, but I want to fight one or two times this year. So we’ll see what UFC wants to do. It’s all business now, and it’s now about the fight. You know me. I love the fight. I’m a true-to-form fighter here, so it is what it is. It’s time to get a little more money, and we’ll go from there.
RD: The last time, between camps, you took a shot at Hollywood. What’s the plan for this time between fights?
MH: That man. WME-IMG. You got more Hollywood stuff for me, let me know. At the end of the day, I’m just having fun. My son’s going to start school in August, so that’s exciting. I’m so excited for that. It’s just spending, it’s enjoying, but I’ve got to get back to work. I’ve got a bunch of work. I’m going to get better and everything, and get ready. There’s a couple of guys that names is super strong for the running to defend my belt, and I look forward to the challenge. (shake hands) Sammy, back to you.
UFC 213’s preliminary card begins Saturday at 3 p.m. HST and will air live on Fox Sports 1.