Thursday, August 11, 2022

Max Holloway says Israel Adesanya, Alexander Volkanovski ‘know how to play the system’

On Saturday night, Max Holloway gets a third — and likely final — chance to defeat Alexander Volkanovski in a battle for the UFC featherweight championship. The trilogy fight between the pair takes place as the co-main event of UFC 276 from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Volkanovski took the title from Holloway at UFC 245 in December 2019 and retained the belt in their rematch at UFC 251 seven months later.

The rematch wasn’t without controversy as many felt Holloway had done enough to regain the championship. Still, Volkanovski’s style — a style that shares many similarities with City Kickboxing teammate and UFC middleweight champ Israel Adesanya — was enough to edge out the split decision victory. Adesanya fights in the UFC 276 headliner, defending his title against Jared Cannonier.

Speaking with Luke Thomas of “Morning Kombat,” Holloway spoke to the similarities of Adesanya and Volkanovski and what has driven both men to the top of their respective decisions.

“Izzy and Alex are almost like the same fighter,” Holloway said. “They just kinda touch, touch, touch and Izzy actually has the power a little bit later or the timing, or whatever you want to call it, where he puts people down and he actually gets the finish. But the top two guys of that crew, they touch. They are very smart. They know how to play the system. ‘I touch you here, I touch you there.’ Make it look like big stuff, I guess that’s what it is. They have the system down to a lock.”

Can’t get enough boxing and MMA? Get the latest in the world of combat sports from two of the best in the business. Subscribe to Morning Kombat with Luke Thomas and Brian Campbell for the best analysis and in-depth news, including an exclusive interview with Max Holloway ahead of Saturday’s trilogy below.

Holloway has rebounded from the back-to-back losses to Volkanovski with Fight of the Night wins over Calvin Kattar and Yair Rodriguez. Those performances have proven that Holloway is still an elite fighter at 145 pounds. 

Now, he looks to Saturday and the opportunity to utilize all the data gathered from across 10 rounds spent battling Volkanovski to once again become world champion. And he believes he can get the job done without needing the judges’ scorecards.

“I’ve got five title wins. It’d be great to get my sixth one here on the ninth island [Las Vegas] where the first one went down,” Holloway said. “Back in crowds for two years, back here, it’s going to be amazing. I just have this feeling. I’ve been in there with this guy for 10 rounds. I really feel like we’re not going past three in this one. He’s different, I’m different. I just think the training I’ve been doing is going to pay off in a big way.”

Despite all his success in the cage, Holloway has dealt with plenty of adversity in his career. He has suffered a pair of losses to Dustin Poirier and losses to Dennis Bermudez and Conor McGregor in addition to the losses to Volkanovski.

Rather than wallow in the lows of a defeat, Holloway said that he and his team have taken every opportunity to turn defeats into learning experiences and chances to become a better fighter the next time he steps into a fight.

“Every loss is only a loss if you don’t learn from it,” Holloway said. “The first [Poirier fight] was whatever, he subbed me. But the second one was like, ya know, even Khabib thought I won that fight. At the end of the day, we learned a lot. You find a lot about yourself when you take an L and you learn. You learn more than in a win anytime. When you’re winning, and you’re just winning, winning, winning, you don’t have the drive to better anything or change anything. When you lose, people sit down and break down themselves and figure out what’s going on.

“After that Dustin fight, we fought Edgar. We felt great. That Dustin fight, it didn’t just help me in my fight game, it helped me with all kinds of stuff behind the scenes. Me and my business manager and my team, we got doctors, we got all kind of stuff figured out after that fight just to think if we ever want to go up and get bigger again.”

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