Forget chasing titles, Scott Holtzman’s all about that ‘BMF’ life ahead of UFC Rio Rancho

Forget chasing titles, Scott Holtzman’s all about that ‘BMF’ life ahead of UFC Rio Rancho




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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Scott Holtzman probably knows the fighter protocol is to say he wants to rise up in the rankings and make his way into title contention.

That’s just one of the stock quotes he’s supposed to give – otherwise, what is he doing this for? But Holtzman, who fights Jim Miller at UFC on ESPN+ 25 on Saturday in New Mexico, has no issue dishing out a little honesty. If one day he found himself being offered a UFC title shot, naturally, he’d take it. Otherwise …

“If I still feel good, still plugging away, still kicking ass, I’ll do it for sure,” Holtzman told MMA Junkie on Wednesday. “I’m not going to turn it away. But that’s just not my main focus right now. I just don’t care. I’m more of a ‘BMF’ belt kind of guy, I think, right now. That’s kind of changed my focus – I think a lot of guys have. That’s kind of what I’m after. Whether that’s attainable or not, that’s what my focus is. I’ve got a kid and a new house now.”

Holtzman (13-3 MMA, 6-3 UFC) has won four of his past five fights. This past August, the Tennessee native got back on track after a decision loss to Nik Lentz with a TKO of Dong Hyun Ma in New Jersey. At UFC on ESPN+ 25, he meets Miller (31-13 MMA, 20-12 UFC) on the prelims. UFC on ESPN+ 25 takes place Saturday at Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho. The event streams on ESPN+.

Holtzman and Miller, both 36, are just a month apart in age. But Holtzman has just 16 pro fights. Miller has made the walk 45 times (including a no contest) and is tied with Donald Cerrone for the most fights in UFC history.

Holtzman said he doesn’t mind if people look at him as one of the new kids on the block, even if he’s not a kid. He gets it. And he’s counting on the fact he has less tread on the tires than Miller does as a potential advantage in their lightweight fight.

“I still view myself as an up-and-comer,” he said. “I’m obviously still growing. I’m newer to the sport. But I feel like I’m the best I’ve ever been now. I think a win over him is huge for me and my career. And we’re both 36 years old – so when you see us on paper, you’re like, ‘Man, this is the geriatric matchup, here.’ But I think I’m a different brand of 36. I’m not a 40-fight veteran 36. I’m still young, I still feel good, I’m still beating up the 20-year-olds in the gym. I’m sure he is, too – he’s incredible. But I’m a little less weathered 36, I like to think.”

A win over Miller arguably would be the biggest one yet for Holtzman. His three losses are to Lentz, Josh Emmett and Drew Dober, all of whom are established names in the division. And all three of those setbacks came with a trio of 29-28 scores against him.

So Holtzman takes a little solace in knowing he never was out of his losses – he just made some mistakes that his opponents capitalized on to walk away with their hands raised. The challenge is not letting something like that happen with Miller in a fight Holtzman said he’s as up for as he’s ever been.

“I feel like this is the most excited I’ve ever been for a fight,” he said. “These are the fights I’m looking for. It’s about the name. But also, I’m getting up into the guys I feel like I belong with – up there in the top echelon of guys. I feel like he’s right there on the fringe, and that’s where I want to be. I didn’t really get into this sport or the UFC to fight twice, lose, and head home. It’s a little bit about the name. I remember watching him when I first started training. For the tier of guys, where I”m at, I feel like he’s the biggest guy, so I’m excited.”

But remember: Fighting the names, for Holtzman, isn’t about working his way into title contention. Just keep giving him intriguing matchups, and when his body tells him it’s time to bounce and do something else, he’ll be out the door.

“I kind of decided before this fight I don’t care about those rankings,” Holtzman said. “I don’t care about the belt. I don’t care about the rankings. I do care about fighting the best guys. I just want some fights that get me excited – that the fans will like.

“I’m here for a good time, not a long time. I always told myself … when I start not feeling good, when I start not getting excited for the fights, then I’ll call it. I’ll call it a career.”

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