Henry Cejudo: Pull Max Holloway from UFC 300 bout vs. Justin Gaethje to fight Ilia Topuria in Spain

Henry Cejudo has a vision for Ilia Topuria’s first title defense, and it requires shaking up the UFC 300 lineup.

The UFC’s new featherweight champion has quickly become a star, and has called for several fights outside his division. Cejudo, a former two-division UFC champ, knows a thing or two about chasing big fights in different divisions, but thinks Topuria isn’t quite ready to do that just yet.

“For Ilia Topuria, there’s too many guys at featherweight for him,” Cejudo told MMA Junkie. “It’s almost like he kind of skipped the line to the belt by just fighting Josh Emmett. No pushback on Josh Emmett, but he’s lost to a lot of people.”

Topuria’s win over Emmett was his sixth victory in the UFC, which followed a stoppage over Bryce Mitchell. He went on to claim the division’s title by knocking off the long-reigning Alexander Volkanovski by second-round knockout at UFC 298.

During his in-cage, post-fight interview, Topuria called out Conor McGregor for a fight in Spain. Cejudo likes the location, but has a different opponent in mind, which would require eliminating the BMF title fight at UFC 300.

“I think they should probably get Max Holloway out of the fight with Justin Gaethje, and give him that fight in Spain,” Cejudo said. “If you fight a guy like Justin Gaethje, Justin Gaethje’s a guy that will hurt you, and you will not be the same. He’s done it to Tony Ferguson. He’s done it to a lot of people. It’s lights out when you fight a guy like Justin Gaethje, and I think sometimes you got to save these dudes from themselves.”

Holloway, a former titleholder at 145 pounds, is currently on a two-fight winning streak in the division. The Hawaiian picked up back-to-back wins over top contenders Arnold Allen and Chan Sung Jung. Before a third loss to Volkanovski, Holloway defeated another pair of contenders in Calvin Kattar and Yair Rodriguez.

Topuria winning the title was a boost for Holloway’s hopes at another title shot. In addition, a fresh matchup for the title would involve a ton of star power for the promotion’s potential card to take place in Spain.

While Holloway could return to featherweight after his matchup against Gaethje at 155 pounds, Cejudo believes the damage risk is too great, and would prefer to see Holloway go straight into a fight with Topuria.

“If I’m in that position, if I’m Dana White, if I’m the UFC, it’s like hey, go through Max Holloway. Go through Movsar (Evloev). I think he defends it a couple more times – you know, he’s going to have his hands full if he does decide to go up. But the celebrity status that these guys bring now, it’s just different.”

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie