Under the most unique of circumstances, Max Holloway will be looking to reclaim the UFC Featherweight Championship at UFC 251. How he got the opportunity to rematch against Alexander Volkanovski is also unique in its own right.
Before fighting on July 11 on “Fight Island”, Holloway (21-5) spoke to MMA Fighting about potentially winning back the title he lost at UFC 245 back in December. With longer hair, the “Blessed” one had the same attitude that guided him to become one of the top fighters at 145. That attitude of fighting on could have been why Volkanovski, not Holloway, was able to get the rematch to happen.
“I didn’t ask for the rematch,” Holloway stated. “I didn’t need to. He asked for it.”
Debuting in the UFC in 2012, Holloway went 3-3 to start his run. He lost to Dustin Poirier in his debut and lost to a young Conor McGregor. After that, Holloway went on a 13-fight win streak that included beating Jose Aldo twice to become the undisputed UFC Featherweight Champion.
Along the way, Holloway stayed humble, even while going for more gold to secure his legacy. He lost against Poirier again for the interim UFC Lightweight Title before beating Frankie Edgar to retain his title. In Las Vegas this December, Holloway lost to Volkanovski (21-1), who is riding an 18-fight win streak, via unanimous decision. Is there any pressure on Holloway to succeed?
“No pressure,” Holloway went on to say. “I’m 0-0 every fight. You know this, my man.
“The next fight is always the most important one. That’s how it works with the UFC – if you’re actually asking for the toughest fights. They give it to you if that’s what you want, and you know me. You know what I always ask for.”
Due to COVID-19, Holloway has been doing everything he can to stay active while helping his community. Holloway started working with Hawaii FoodBank. During that time, he did not meet with his coaches before “Fight Island”, and has only been training without sparring partners.
His mind focused on earning gold for his family and friends, Holloway is ready than ever before. Will the unorthodox training affect him in any way? He believes the artistic movement he has won’t be altered.
“I’m always trying to keep a high pace,” Holloway said. “I fought my last four title fights in 12 months. If I won at [UFC] 245 I probably would’ve tried to fight on the March card to be honest. So it is what it is. When I can dictate the pace for the division, things move faster.”
UFC 251 takes place on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. The new main event of UFC 251 will be Kamaru Usman v. Jorge Masvidal for the UFC Welterweight Title, while Jose Aldo and Petr Yan will fight to determine a new UFC Bantamweight Champion.