The sting of losing the UFC featherweight championship didn’t really weigh too much on Max Holloway after he fell to Alexander Volkanovski last December.
While many have called him the 145-pound greatest fighter of all time, Holloway never embraced the hype or distinctions surrounding his reign in title and instead focused only on the next competitor lining up to face him.
He retained the same attitude of his loss to Volkanovski as Holloway planned to face the one the UFC would have put in front of him afterwards, but ultimately the promotion decided to make an immediate rematch now scheduled for July 11 on ” Fight Island “in Abu Dhabi.
It turns out that Holloway didn’t even have to ask for the fight because he said it was Volkanovski who had asked for a new confrontation with him as the Australian sought to cement his status as champion.
“I didn’t ask for the rematch,” said Holloway when speaking to MMA Fighting. “I didn’t need it. He asked for it. ”
Automatic rematches for former champions can be tricky because a second straight defeat means that the chances of getting a third opportunity against the same fighter are virtually impossible.
In recent history, only Stipe Miocic succeeded in immediate revenge after avenging a previous loss to Daniel Cormier with a fourth-round TKO to reclaim the heavyweight title last August. Previously, a number of former champions had failed to win gold.
Frankie Edgar beat BJ Penn to become champion and then consolidated his status as the best 155 pound fighter in the world with another victory at the UFC Hall of Fame. Edgar suffered the same fate after losing his title to Benson Henderson, then failed in a near-razor decision in the rematch.
As the longest running middleweight champion in the history of the company, Anderson Silva certainly deserved another chance from Chris Weidman after he ran into him when they first met. Unfortunately, the rematch ended devastatingly after Silva broke his leg in the second round in a striking exchange.
Holloway was in fact responsible for Aldo’s consecutive setback after meeting them twice.
Despite the seemingly odds against him, the 28-year-old Hawaiian does not think much about what the rematch means or the chances that a win would likely spark a third confrontation with Volkanovski in the future.
“No pressure,” said Holloway. “I’m 0-0 in every fight. You know it, my man.
“The next fight is always the most important. This is how it works with the UFC – if you are really 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. ”
While downplaying the importance of immediate revenge, Holloway knows how much he is at stake when he steps into the octagon this Saturday night at UFC 251.
On top of all that, he had to face an far from ideal training camp due to the COVID-19 epidemic that swept the world and forced Hawaiians to make many shared sacrifices to slow the spread of deadly disease.
In fact, Holloway did most of their work at home while talking to their coaches on Zoom and without any training partners to push them to do rounds at a time. He stayed in good health, which is a change of pace from the usual rigors of an intense training camp and Holloway is the last person in the world to find excuses, especially considering what other people had to face thanks to the coronavirus.
Instead of complaining, Holloway put his extra energy into the hands of those who needed it most.
“It will be a long road to Hawaii,” said Holloway. “Unemployment is one of the highest in the United States because we rely heavily on tourism. When things went wrong, we were hit by dozens of charities. The most important thing is that people have to eat, so we work with the Hawaii FoodBank. We have already done certain things and we have several others in preparation. I hope to announce some other great campaigns next week.
“I have to spend more time with [my family]. I need to reset. But yes, Hawaii is struggling. For my team, we have prioritized charity work, so we have a lot going on in the pipeline now. It’s still on our list but now it’s half of our list. It’s just a different world and we have a responsibility to Hawaii. “
As COVID-19 spikes have started appearing all over the United States, Holloway is ready to put all of his focus back on the fighting from his title fight this weekend.
If all goes well, Holloway will go home with a title to cheer up friends and family at home, then he hopes to make the featherweight division a little more active again.
“I always try to keep a high pace,” said Holloway. “I have fought my last four title fights in 12 months. If I won at [UFC] 245 I would probably have tried to fight on the March map to be honest.
“So that’s what it is. When I can dictate the pace of division, things move faster. “