Dubai: Max Holloway is a national treasure in his native Hawaii and his legacy as one of the UFC’s greatest featherweights of all time is already secure.
But the 28-year-old will buy none of the accolades as he focuses on his much-anticipated rematch against Australia’s Alexander Volkanovski in the co-main event at UFC 251, at Yas Island in Abu Dhabi on Sunday morning.
When they last fought at UFC 245 in Las Vegas in December, Holloway (21-5 MMA, 17-5 UFC) lost by unanimous decision to surrender his featherweight title in the process.
However, he still believes he did enough to win that night although the three judges all scored the fight in Volkanovski’s favour at 48-47, 48-47, 50-45.
“Never leave a fight to the judges; they’ll make you cry,” Holloway said. “No excuses. I thought I did enough, but obviously it wasn’t. There’s three guys’ decisions that matter. They all went the other way.
“When (Saturday) comes, I get to prove that I’m one of the best guys in the world still, and I just can’t wait. This time, I’m going in there and do my thing, and hopefully we won’t need the judges.”
The Hawaiian, who spoke to the media on Tuesday from inside Abu Dhabi’s secluded ‘Fight Island’, was questioned on why did he abandon his training camp for such a big fight in favour of working-out in isolation and via zoom with his coaches.
“I know everybody’s blowing their mind, tripping out,” Holloway defended. “I’ve been fighting my whole life. I’ve been fighting since I was 16. That’s a long time.
“I did a lot of sparring in that time. In the beginning of my career, all I really did was spar. This is another fight, at the end of the day.”
Frequently during the live media day interview Holloway described the fight as “it is what it is” implying that he was not putting undue pressure on himself to win.
“You might kill me,” Holloway said. “You might think differently, but it’s just another fight. I got five of those titles at home. They’re all in my closet.
“This guy could beat me two more times, and he still won’t have the same amount of titles as me. I’m beating him in that case. At the end of the day, it’s just another fight. The belt is the belt, like I said.”
The Hawaiian, who sported a protective black face mask with the words ‘Bless Yourself’ written on it during the media day, also questioned Volkanovski’s attitude ahead of Saturday’s fight.
“In my eyes, you’re the champ, what are you trying to prove?” Holloway said. “If you believe you’re the champ, who are you trying to prove anything to? I’m not trying to prove anything to no one.
“I knew I was the champ,” Holloway said. “There are certain things like the belt; it was just for people to understand where I was coming from.”
Meanwhile, Volkanovski, whose father is Macedonian while his mother is Greek, responded to Holloway’s comments by describing the Hawaiian as a sore loser.
“I don’t know where he is going with this. He’s been saying some crazy things,” said Volkanovski, who lives in New South Wales, Australia.
“He’s never been a power puncher so I just don’t know where he’s trying to go with this. He’s just got all these weird narratives that it just sounds a little crazy at the moment.
“Look, if he’s trying to get people to believe the s**t he’s been saying, well I’m not letting it get to me. It seems like it’s getting to him. It seems like he’s a bit salty and he’s been a bit of a sore loser.
“I guess losing is tough and that’s why he’s acting like that but at the same time he’s saying some crazy things. “
The headlining bout will see welterweight champion Kamaru Usman defend his title against late-replacement Jorge Masvidal while in a third title bout Petr Yan takes on the great Jose Aldo for the vacant bantamweight belt.