Heading into UFC 251, Max Holloway has a different mindset compared to most fighters. The former UFC Featherweight Champion is on the outside looking in and has had to deal with adversity due to the coronavirus pandemic. Alexander Volkanovski believes that his downfall in their rematch could be a result of the latter.
Volkanovski (21-1) beat Holloway (21-5) at UFC 245 in December to win the UFC Featherweight Championship. Talks of a rematch over the past few months were in question due to COVID-19, but once announced, the games were on. Holloway mentioned that he has not physically been with his trainers and that all of his training is done via Skype or Zoom. Volkanovski, who managed to find a way to train with others, believes that Holloway made a mistake.
“You need that contact training. You need it,” Volkanovski told MMA Junkie. “Even me, I had six weeks of contact training, and I didn’t have contact training before that.
“My team went out of their way to get an exemption to make that happen, went through the government, and they got an exemption so we could do contact training because it’s important. Don’t get me wrong. I was keeping fit, and I was staying strong, but to say that I’m fight fit and ready to fight for a title, it’s just ridiculous.”
Volkanovski was riding a 17-fight win streak heading into the fight. He beat contender Chad Mendes and former champion Jose Aldo to earn the opportunity. While he broke his hand, Volkanovski ended up controlling the rounds right away. Traveling from another part of the world, Volkanovski believes that Holloway isn’t prepared for the fight as he thinks he is.
“I’m sure he (Holloway) wouldn’t put himself in that position,” Volkanovski stated. “He wants to take that belt. I’m sure he wants his belt back and having a camp without training partners, it just doesn’t make sense. And if that’s the case, maybe he doesn’t care. Maybe he’s just fighting for the money. I don’t know what it is. Maybe he doesn’t care about this division anymore, I don’t know. If that’s the case, I really don’t think he’s committed to this fight like he should be.”
Holloway was 14-0 in the featherweight division after losing to Conor McGregor in 2013. Beating Aldo for the title in 2017, he defended it three times. Before beating Frankie Edgar, he made his way to lightweight, losing to Dustin Poirier for the interim UFC Lightweight Title. Following the loss to Volkanovski, Holloway is now 1-2 in his last three.
When it comes to the actual fight, Holloway believes that if he can dictate the pace, he can come out of the fight the winner. While he feels no pressure, Volkanovski will make sure to remind Holloway of what he lost every chance he can get.
As far as how he thinks the fight will go, Volkanovski, who requested the rematch, considers this overtime.
“I’m going for the finish, and I think it is going to be a finish,” Volkanovski went on to say. “I have a lot of respect for him as a fighter, who he is. He’s a durable fighter, as well, got a great chin, so me putting him away is really sending a statement, and that really, really cements me into where I want to be, so that’s what I plan on doing.”