While many fighters have found time to train with select sparring partners and coaches in person, Max Holloway did nothing of the sort in preparation for his rematch with Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 251 .
The former featherweight champion recently claimed that the entirety of his camp was done virtually through Zoom, a platform used for video conferencing that has skyrocketed in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic. At a virtual media day for UFC 251 on Monday, Holloway insisted that he isn’t trying to pull a fast one on his opponent — or anyone else — by downplaying his training.
“I seriously did this Zoom stuff,” Holloway said. “I was a big advocate of staying home, being smart, making all the right decisions. Especially with the lockdown in Hawaii — it was super serious when the pandemic happened. I’m serious about it.
“I had four title fights in a matter of 12 months. I’ve got a bunch of experience. I don’t need sparring. I’ve been sparring since I was 16. I’m 28 now. It’s just good to reset. It was like a hard reset for me, and I feel great.”
According to Holloway, making weight won’t be an issue, either.
“It’s [the weight cut] been great, actually,” he said. “Shout out to my girl, she got me eating right. Anytime I tried to grab something sweet she slapped that shit out of my hands. She’s the real MVP.
“I had no concerns at all. This pandemic has made my habits a little bit better, being a lot smarter with certain stuff. When the fight came, the fight came. I was at a great place in my weight, still am.”
Prior to losing the featherweight crown to Volkanovski in their first meeting at UFC 245, Holloway was gaining traction as perhaps the greatest featherweight of all-time, especially after earning a pair of victories over long-reigning champion Jose Aldo. However, “Blessed” says his mindset remains the same as a challenger.
“It didn’t change at all. I’m 0-0 every fight,” he said. “I always told you guys I don’t need the belt to prove that I’m the champion. At the end of the day, it’s just another fight to me.”
Although Holloway thought he did enough to get the nod against Volkanovski the first time around, all three judges scored it for the reigining champion, who battered his opponent with leg kicks and never allowed the Hawaiian to get comfortable enough to unleash his trademark volume.
This time around, Holloway is looking for a stoppage. That approach served him well in victories over Anthony Pettis, Aldo (twice) and Brian Ortega during a four-bout stretch from 2016 to 2018.
“I’m gonna go out there and do my thing, have fun with it. Don’t leave it to the judges,” Holloway said. “I’m looking for a finish; it’s been a while since I finished.”
Holloway says he never considered taking a tuneup fight before jumping straight into a rematch with Volkanovski.
“This is another fight to me. Whatever the UFC wants, whatever the fans want,” he said. “This is a fight they gave to us. Why turn it down? At the end of the day, I wasn’t over here petitioning like these other guys for anything. The champ called me out. So at the end of the day, that’s why I’m here.”