Now that Max Holloway has cemented his reign as the new featherweight king, ushering in the Blessed Era, he focuses his eyes on a new accomplishment. Holloway’s mission statement now as UFC champion is to continue as an even stronger ambassador to his homeland and to finally bring UFC to Hawaii. It looks like his efforts have been noticed by all parties involved. The UFC contacted the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) to begin negotiations on a fight card. No word on how successful the talks were yet, but word is the HTA were hesitant about the idea. This prompted Holloway to take to social media.
“THE HAWAII TOURISM AUTHORITY IS CONCERNED UFC HAWAII MIGHT ATTRACT PROBLEMS OUTSIDE THE OCTAGON. FAIR PLAY TO THEM. THEY’RE TRYING TO PROTECT OUR HOME. BUT LET’S LET THEM KNOW MMA IS ABOUT RESPECT AND HAWAII FANS WILL MAKE SURE OF THAT. FIGHTS STAY IN OCTAGON. FIGHTERS AND FANS FROM OUT OF TOWN, WE’RE GONNA’ WELCOME YOU WITH OPEN ARMS. WE’RE GONNA CHEER AGAINST EACH OTHER, BUT WHEN IT’S OVER WE’RE GONNA’ SHOW YOU AROUND AND SHARE OUR CULTURES. JUST LIKE BRAZIL DID W US. LET’S TELL THE HTA MAHALO AND LET THEM KNOW WHAT UFC HAWAII MEANS TO US.” —MAX HOLLOWAY VIA HIS TWITTER.
The comments stem from the HTA’s statements about the UFC and the kind of people and/or violence it may attract to Hawaii. Not everyone is on board with their line of thinking though, other fighters are speaking out with Max Holloway and Senator Glenn Wakai sides with the first Hawaiian champ since BJ Penn carried a UFC belt back to the island.
“[HTA BOARD CHAIRMAN] RICK FRIED AND [HTA CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER] RANDY BALDEMOR SAID IT ATTRACTS UNDESIRABLES TO HAWAII. I TOLD THEM THAT IN VEGAS THE UFC FAN SPENDS MORE AND STAYS LONGER THAN AN AVERAGE VEGAS TOURIST. I DIDN’T SEE ANY STATISTICS SHOWING AN INCREASE IN ASSAULTS OR ‘HOOLIGAN’ BEHAVIOR.” —STATE SEN. GLENN WAKAI SPEAKING TO THE STAR ADVERTISER.
A couple of venues have been discussed like the Neal S. Blaisdell Center and the Stan Sheriff Center, but the worry is that those indoor venues wouldn’t hold enough people to put on a UFC fight card. The Aloha Stadium is another option, but would require a canopy. BJ Penn fought Renzo Gracie in the same stadium back in 2005 for the K-1: World Grand Prix Hawaii and drew 12,000 people. If the UFC and Max Holloway can change the HTA’s mind, Holloway could defend his belt there and add to an already rich history.
This article first appeared onBJPenn.comon 12/12/2017.