LOS ANGELES — UFC featherweight champion Max “Blessed” Holloway is in a particularly good mood the day after his twenty-eighth birthday.
In a little more than a week, Holloway will attempt the fourth defense of the UFC title he won in 2017. He takes on challenger Alexander Volkanovski on December 14 on the UFC 245 Pay Per View Main card on ESPN+. For now, however, the Hawaiian kickboxer from Waianae is as chatty as he’s ever been in front of the cameras.
The topics of the day cover an extraordinarily wide range. Of course there’s discussion of his upcoming fight against Volkanovski, which serves as the UFC 245 co-main event, just before headliners Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington settle their grudge match on PPV. Holloway also goes into detail about his intention to fight the best fighters available in the future, like Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor. At one point, “Blessed” even credits Daniel “DC” Cormier with helping him book his very first UFC title fight. The subject matter really hopped around throughout the near-30 minute press event.
“It took me 10 fights to get a title fight, and I got a title fight because of DC,” offers Holloway, making light of an injury cancelation to his dear friend that led to his UFC 206 headlining bout against Anthony Pettis. “So, thank you ‘DC.’ I always thank him for that. I don’t know what happened, but I got my interim title fight because of that, and things happen for a reason.”
Holloway and Cormier have forged a deep friendship since that serendipitous moment in 2016, with “Blessed” going as far as to say that he was “bummed” at his omission from the main card of Cormier’s UFC 241 headlining title fight this past August. For now, though, he’s happy to take a back seat to the verbose and heated rivalry between Usman and Covington, along with the interference that comes with headlining a high-profile event in Las Vegas.
And besides, if anything, Holloway is more than thrilled to share the PPV main card with Amanda Nunes, the only UFC champion currently with a longer tenure.
Holloway refers to Nunes as “the G.O.A.T.,” adding that “it’s dope to be on a card with her,” but “Blesse” is also deflecting attention from his own Greatest of All Time status. With a 16-3 record at 145 pounds, it’s undeniable that Holloway has cemented his place as the top featherweight in UFC history. But even that’s not enough for Holloway, who has a bigger mission in the works.
Loyal to the team and coaches that have prepared him for 21 previous UFC battles, Holloway understands the influence that he has over the Hawaiian archipelago and is committed to making a difference in his homeland. Discussing his Polynesian, Hawaiian, and Samoan heritage and ethnicity, Holloway admits that his ability to represent and inspire his people outweighs even his accomplishments inside the cage.
“I just want to show these kids, ‘look, we in a rock in the middle of nowhere and you can do great things,’” comments Holloway. “Life is about inspiring someone. When you leave this world, you wanna make it better than when you came in, so that’s the end goal.”
It’s a moment of earnestness tucked underneath the layers of bravado in the world of prizefighting and sports entertainment, and Holloway quickly reverts back to his jovial tone, offering some of his perceived differences between Hawaiians and mainlanders. “Maybe the wiring got crisscrossed, or mismatched,” he says. “I don’t know what happened, but we just wired a little bit different.”
In a similar tone, Holloway offers some obscure insight from his current training camp for the UFC 245 co-main event versus Alexander Volkanovski, which airs on ESPN+ Pay Per View. Making jest of his own shortcomings in the reach department, Holloway reroutes the conversation for a moment of the self-deprecation.
“I think everybody’s catching on that I’m like a T-Rex. I’m tall and I got short reach,” states Holloway. “[I’ve] been trying to stretch a lot more, get my reach a little bit longer. Alex got a longer reach than me, so I’ve been doing my stretches a little bit longer, focusing. Hopefully we can re-measure for this fight.”
Max Holloway is in fine form today, roughly a week before the final stage of his weight cut down to 145 pounds. Fight night is still a few days away, but it’s tough not to think that Max Holloway will not be one hundred percent prepared for yet another big test inside the Octagon.
The UFC 245 PPV main card on ESPN+ begins at 7 p.m. PST / 10 p.m. EST.
UFC 245 PPV main card (ESPN+)
Kamaru Usman vs. Colby Covington – UFC welterweight title fight
Max Holloway vs. Alexander Volkanovski – UFC featherweight title fight
Amanda Nunes vs. Germaine de Randamie – UFC bantamweight title fight
Jose Aldo vs. Marlon Moraes
Urijah Faber vs. Petr Yan
UFC 245 Preliminaries (ESPN 2) 5 p.m. PST / 8 p.m. EST
Mike Perry vs. Geoff Neal
Ketlen Vieira vs. Irene Aldana
Matt Brown vs. Ben Saunders
Ian Heinisch vs. Omari Akhmedov
UFC 245 Early Prelims (UFC Fight Pass) 1:30 p.m. PST / 4:30 p.m. EST
Chase Hooper vs. David Teymur
Brandon Moreno vs. Kai Kara-France
Jessica Eye vs. Viviane Araujo
Punahele Soriano vs. Oskar Piechota
*Fight Card Subject to Change
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