Dubai: Max Holloway has worked hard to forge a reputation as one of the best featherweight fighters of all time - only to see a image crafted with blood, sweat and tears in the MMA Octagon take a hit following three losses from four fights over the last couple of years.
Having beaten some of the best-ever fighters in the 145 pound division including Jose Aldo (twice), Frankie Edgar, Cub Swanson and Brian Ortega, Holloway, relinquished his belt to Dustin Poirier in 2019 before suffering back-to-back, although controversial, defeats against Alexander Volkanovski.
But now, as the UFC returns to Fight Island in Abu Dhabi this weekend for the first of a month-watering triple header, he has the chance to restore his status as a GOAT by beating rising featherweight sensation Calvin Kattar.
“I’m super-excited to be back at Fight Island fighting Calvin Kattar and in front of an audience again,” the No. 1 ranked contender in the featherweight division told the Gulf News. “It’s very exciting. I just can’t wait to go out there and do my thing after the loss to Volkanovski. I deserved the last fight but it was out of my hands. So this time I can’t wait to go out there and have some fun and get the job done.
“He’s had to work a lot to get to this point,” added Holloway, who turned 29 last month. “He deserves this fight and I can’t wait to show everybody what I can do.
“A lot of people are talking about his boxing, a lot of people taking about and my boxing, so I’m looking forward to mixing it up for him.”
Holloway, who is the international betting favourite to stop the Kattar juggernaut, will be hoping that a strong performance will put him back into title contention and a possible third fight against Volanovski, although he did not give away too much on the trilogy.
But for the moment he is totally focused on the No 6 ranked Kattar. “I’ve got five titles in all and nobody is going to take that away from me,” he said. “My goal is to get my sixth title, my seventh title, my eighth title and so on and so on.
“But first it’s Kalvin Katter on Saturday and then I think everything will take care of itself. If Volkavnovski’s the guy they want me to fight, so be it, if not, it doesn’t really matter. We see it happening but let’s take care of Kattar first.”
Holloway believes he is close to being at the peak of his powers and is not just out to rebuild his career. He has been around a long time and knows what he wants. There is so much to like about Holloway’s attitude heading into Sunday’s pivotal fight and he maintains that he’s even more hungry than ever.