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To be the second best in the world at anything is an accomplishment few in the world will ever experience. While such a distinction would be thrilling and incredible for most people, being the world's second-best can sting when you've previously sat in the top spot. That's the case for UFC Fight Night headliner Max Holloway, who takes on Arnold Allen on Saturday night.

For nearly a decade, dating back to his August 2013 fight with Conor McGregor, only one man has been able to defeat Holloway in a featherweight bout. That man, UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski, has defeated Holloway not once, not twice, but three times as he firmly established himself as the best 145-pound fighter on the planet.

When not in the cage with Volkanovski, Holloway is still the same terror he always has been for other featherweights. Against Calvin Kattar, Holloway landed a record 445 significant strikes. He followed that up with an impressive decision win over Yair Rodriguez, a fighter who would win the interim featherweight title two fights later and is set to challenge Volkanovski in July.

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The situation has put Holloway into a strange place in the sport. A featherweight arguably better than everyone on the planet but with no real path to another title shot. Holloway is too good to be seen as a gatekeeper, yet that's essentially his function against fighters like Allen.

If Allen can defeat Holloway it proves he is an elite fighter and will all but certainly receive a title shot after Volkanovski and Rodriguez unify their two versions of the featherweight championship. If Holloway beats Allen, though? It's on to the next fight against another top fighter. There's no prize in the near future for Holloway, just the thrill of the fight.

In a recent interview with ESPN, Holloway said he still thinks he's a better fighter than Volkanovski because he has to think that.

"Yes, I do believe I am a better fighter than Alexander Volkanovki," Holloway said. "If I didn't believe I was a better fighter than him, then why I am fighting in the same weight class as the guy? Ask anybody. Ask anybody who has lost to anybody, 'Do you think you are a better fighter than this guy?' Of course, they are going to say yes, because once we start saying no, once you get the acceptance that this guy might be better than me, then you don't belong, and you should retire. Guys don't understand that."

The other strange reality of Holloway's position is how much power other men have over his opportunities.

Should Holloway remain at featherweight, he becomes a fan of other challengers by default. If Rodriguez can topple Volkanovski, Holloway gets right back in the title mix. As mentioned, Holloway already holds a win over Rodriguez, making him a sensible challenger, though Volkanovski would almost certainly be granted an immediate rematch in the event of a title loss.

The other option for some greater meaning in Holloway's career is to move to lightweight.

The last time Holloway competed at 155 was April 2019. While holding the featherweight title, Holloway moved up to face Dustin Poirier for the interim lightweight title. Poirier won a fantastic fight and Holloway returned to 145 for one more successful defense before the first meeting with Volkanovski.

There are plenty of fresh challenges and big names for Holloway to face at lightweight, which could all lead to another crack at lightweight gold. Holloway even admitted the idea was appealing while speaking to ESPN.

"For this next fight, no. But it's always tempting to go there," Holloway said. "You got killers up there and those fights excite me. We just see what happens. It's always great to go up a weight class when you got a belt around your waist so we'll see what happens. Never say never. We'll see what cards we get and we'll go from there."

Ultimately, Holloway said he believes the UFC would "force his hand" to move to lightweight if they didn't see a potential featherweight title shot in his future.

Age and durability may also be a factor moving forward -- as well as any potential move to lightweight. Holloway is only 31 years old, but with 30 fights of mileage on his body, 26 of those fights at the UFC level. In addition, over his past eight fights, Holloway has absorbed an average of 124 significant strikes. That's nearly 1,000 strikes taken since December 2018. And that punishment did start to look as though it was affecting Holloway during his most recent loss to Volkanovski. 

It's a hard thing for the former best in the world to accept a title fight may simply be out of reach in the current environment. Holloway will continue doing what he's always done, trying to knock off top contenders and become undeniable. Unfortunately, it's ultimately out of his hands.