Alexander Volkanovski doesn’t think there is any serious bad blood between him and Max Holloway, which is why he finds some of the pre-fight chatter confused.
On Saturday at UFC 251 in Abu Dhabi, Volkanovski defends his featherweight title against Holloway, the man from whom he took it in December. “The Great” dominated Holloway by unanimous decision during their first meeting and approaching the rematch, the former champion criticized Volkanovski while taking shots at the performance of Volkanovski in their first fight.
Volkanovski does not know where Holloway’s comments come from, but he hypothesized that they could be sour grapes.
“Look, I don’t know if he’s playing the game and he’s just trying to make people believe what he says, I don’t know what it is,” said Volkanovski during a virtual media day Tuesday. “I don’t let him reach me. Looks like it happens to him. He seems to be salty and a bit of a painful loser, but I guess losing is difficult and maybe that’s why he acts like that. He says crazy things. ”
Before their first fight, there was little drama outside the cage. Volkanovski made a successful streak with a departure from UFC 7-0 and a 17-game winning streak dating back to May 2013. The two also remained respectful after Volkanovski beat Holloway.
Seven months have passed since Volkanovski and Holloway fought, which is more than enough for the outlook to change, although Volkanovski is still unsure of exactly what motivates Holloway’s new attitude.
“There is something different in his way of being,” said Volkanovski. “I do not know what it is. Again, I don’t hate the guy. I have respect for the guy and you can clearly see after my fight that I said he was a great champion and that I also want to be a great champion. That’s how I know Max Holloway. To see him say these things and act the way he does is just not right for him. This is not how it should work. I don’t know why he takes it that way. I’m blown away by this, but at the same time, it makes me want to give it a little more beating, so again, I can use it as fuel. He says the wrong things and – whatever, it’s strange.
“I don’t know where he’s going with all these strange tales like,” the kicks didn’t work “, he said the comment was biased for me. It was crazy, acting like I was a karate pointer when he was known for his volume punching, his pitter-patter. You got the comment on how I try to throw powerful blows to end the fight. Will I be able to keep this pace and keep this power, will I make gas because I throw everything in my punches. You know what I mean? It’s just crazy where it goes with everything. “
Volkanovski also touched on reports that he asked Holloway for a rematch, a request that most fighters don’t usually ask for after dethroning a champion. According to Volkanovski, it was more a question of respect and logistics than trying to resolve an unfinished business.
“The UFC never brought anyone other than Max Holloway,” said Volkanovski. “Max tells everyone I was asking for the fight, but that’s exactly what the UFC was asking for. At the end of the day, if it was the fight they were going to push me, and there were no clear # 1 contenders, it ended up being the fight I wanted anyway.
“The biggest fight in my division is Max, there is no clear # 1 competitor, so a rematch against Max – obviously, it’s still at its peak. You come out one of the biggest of all time, you know a lot of people throwing his name out there like GOAT, and to take it back to back is saying something. ”
With contenders like Zabit Magomedsharipov, Brian Ortega, Chan Sung Jung and Yair Rodriguez waiting behind the scenes, Volkanovski expects to have a busy schedule ahead of him should he overtake Holloway a second time. He said he preferred to clear the division before discussing any potential super-fights.
A win over Holloway would remove “Blessed” from the equation for the foreseeable future, a result that Volkanovski doesn’t think Holloway insists on.
“If I were in his place, I wouldn’t let the pressure build up on me,” said Volkanovski. “Even if you were to say, ‘Is the pressure on you’, on myself, I would be like no, that is not the case. He’s the kind of person I am. I can really control my emotions and I’m really good at staying calm and I think it is too. So I don’t know if there’s pressure on him.
“Does he look at it as a last chance to get his belt back and then he goes up anyway, maybe that’s how he looks at it, so maybe there is not a lot of pressure on him because he thinks, ‘If I lose, I go up. I don’t know if I want to continue doing this to my body anyway in this division. Maybe that’s where his head is. Maybe it’s just like, one last crack, make some money. Is that why he supposedly would not have camped with training partners even if I don’t believe it at all. I don’t believe it. I don’t think there is too much pressure on him. “
As for Holloway’s claim that he did not do physical work with his coaches before UFC 251 because of COVID-19 precautions, Volkanovski did not buy it. If there is an element of truth, it only makes him more confident because he feels that he has already faced the best of Holloway.
“I hope he had a full camp because I beat him on his best day and I think I will do that too,” said Volkanovski. “If he’s under-prepared, I really think I’ll beat him. It’s just the truth. I am not disrespectful, but if you enter this under-prepared fight, you will make this evening very difficult for you. “