Newell was then stripped of his title and would eventually leave the XFC for the World Series of Fighting, leading to John Mahlow stepping in to face Holtzman for the vacant championship.
And while he was able to brush off the initial awkwardness of the situation, Holtzman says in the weeks leading up to the fight, he’s had to go through it all over again.
“I moved past the craziness there pretty quickly,” said Holtzman. “It was kind of wild for a day or two, but things settled down.
“This week there’s been a flood of interviews and everybody wants to bring it up and talk about it again. Honestly, I hadn’t thought about him after the initial change. It’s just part of the business and I don’t mind it, but things haven’t changed whole lot.”
According to Holtzman, he had enough time to make the changes needed to face Mahlow instead of Newell on Friday night’s XFC 24.
“At this point I have a good set of basic skills, so it’s not like I had to learn to do anything,” Holtzman said. “All I had to do was brush up on certain submission defense and alter little things game plan-wise. It wasn’t too bad. Just a different body type and style, but it wasn’t too hard.”
When it comes to Friday’s bout itself, Holtzman feels he has all the tools needed to keep the fight in his favor and eventually come out victorious.
“I feel like I have a good idea of where he wants to go, so I’m just going to make sure it goes where I want it,” said Holtzman of Mahlow. “I want to chip away at him and get the win. I’m excited to go five rounds for the first time. I know he’s been there before, so it’s going to be a good test for me.
“I want to impose my will and whatever he does well, just take that tool away from him. That’s what I’m looking to do.”
Also fighting on the June 14 card, which airs live on AXS TV, is Eric Reynolds, the fighter whom Newell defeated for the lightweight title last year.
When asked if he’d be willing to face Reynolds should they both come out on top at XFC 24, Holtzman replied, “Obviously I have to win, so I think about that first and foremost, but that feels like it would be the logical choice.
“Eric or (his opponent) Kevin Forant are guys that I’ve initially thought I would fight for a while, so if that comes up, I’m more than willing to oblige.”