Morning Report: Max Holloway opens up about battling depression after UFC 226

Max Holloway
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Wednesday was World Mental Health Day, a day meant to raise the awareness of mental health issues around the world and to mobilize efforts in support of mental health. So it’s extremely fitting that yesterday, UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway opened up about his own battle with depression that he has been struggling with this year.

Coming off of winning Fighter of the Year in 2017, Holloway had plans for a big 2018 but instead this year has proven to be one he’d rather forget. Holloway has had to withdraw from three fights in 2018, being pulled from a scheduled title defense against Brian Ortega on fight week due to concussion-like symptoms. Speaking with Good Show with Ben Ennis & JD Bunkis yesterday, Holloway discussed how these incidents affected him and his ensuing battle with depression.

“It just helped me as a person realize that sometimes you gotta slow things down to get things back correct,” Holloway said of his recent struggles. “After this last one I dealt with some depression. I was talking about [NBA star DeMar] DeRozan. DeRozan talked about depression and that really shook me. He said that he wished that everybody was rich, that everybody in the world had money so they could understand that money does not make you happy.

“Depression is real and that really hit me hard. I was going through a phase where I wasn’t talking to no one. Only my son. Me and my son would do stuff but I was talking to no one. If I wanted to you I would call you but if people were reaching out to me I was putting myself away. Since I was in that situation, now I’m able to talk about it and I can tell people that’s not the way to do it. The way to do it is talk to your family, talk to your friends, be with everyone because you don’t know when things can change. Life changes on a dime so live life to the fullest.”

Holloway’s withdrawal against Ortega was by far the most concerning. At the beginning of the year, “Blessed” had to withdraw from a bout with Frankie Edgar due to a leg injury and later in the year he was forced out due to his weight cut when trying to step in on just a few day’s notice against Khabib Nurmagomedov. But the withdrawal from the Ortega bout was truly scary as, months afterwards, the cause was still undetermined. Now though, Holloway is physically feeling better and is currently scheduled to face Ortega at UFC 231 on December 8. Still his struggles with his health, both physical and mental, have left a lasting impression on the featherweight champion.

“Don’t be scared to look for help,” Holloway said. “Depression is real. . . It’s crazy and all these guys, us athletes, that keep thinking we’re superheroes. I like to think I’m a superhero but superheroes got to fight their demons too sometimes.”

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