Come UFC 251 this Saturday, Max Holloway has a chance to establish the second Blessed era.
The first, of course, saw his rise through the featherweight division, his emergence as a bonafide UFC star at home and abroad, and his dominance over 145lb legend Jose Aldo. Not to mention impressive wins over Frankie Edgar, Brian Ortega and more.
Holloway’s rematch with Alexander Volkanovski comes under very different circumstances than the pair’s first meeting. Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, Holloway’s training has included sessions on Zoom, with his gym shut down. But eventually, the featherweight said Tuesday during the first of three media days for UFC 251, he hopes this will all be part of the distant past.
“Hopefully we can move on. There’s this pandemic going on right now, and hopefully we can move on from it. Hopefully we can find a vaccine, and people can start getting healed,” said Holloway. “Or we’ll at least have something to help people get healed. That’s my best-case scenario.”
Holloway (21-5) took on a leadership role in the early days of the pandemic, speaking out in support of social distancing, pointing to his own grandmother as all the motivation he needed.
View this post on Instagram
I don't think there's a doc out there who would say COVID-19 is more dangerous than fighting for a living. I'm not afraid of it to be honest. It's like the flu but 10x more deadly. So what? I put myself in more danger every day. So for anybody else who feels that way I agree. But I also learned it's not about me. I can carry it. I can have no symptoms like Donovan Mitchell. Then I can give it to my grandma and maybe she doesn't beat it. Then what? All my UFC title belts ain't gonna make me tough enough to deal with that responsibility. Hawaii doesn't have that many hospital beds… If just a few hundred elderly need to be in ICU for treatment then what? What happens then when Sista Moki gets in a car accident and the ICU is already full? I don't know. Nobody does and we don't want to find out. This isn't about most of us who could get it and beat it. It's about the people who won't beat it so we gotta make sure we do our part to protect them. Take the social distancing seriously. Pretend you already have it. Distance yourself to protect others AND yourself. I know when the govt says "prepare but don't panic" that basically screams panic. I get it. But none of us need 48 rolls of toilet paper… So if you know someone who may need supplies, we need to help them and share. But also remember we could already have it and not know, so be VERY careful? And if you see me in the store, smile, point to the ground if you one banga, but we don't need to take photos. Most people who go to the store in normal times probably only interact with one or two strangers. When I go anywhere I have hundreds of interactions, a lot of people come up to me. I'm a magnet for viruses. It's not good for your loved ones health for you to interact with me now. I promise when this is all over my team will do meet and greets so everyone who wants a photo or autograph can get one, so don't worry you will not be missing your chance. This isn't practice. This is a fight. You guys know me. I love to take fights into deep waters. This isn't one we want to take into deep waters. The quicker we can slow the spread the quicker we get back to normal 🤙🏻
Speaking to Cageside Press during Tuesday’s media day, Holloway said the response to his statement was respectful. “There was actually a big, real respect of it. They read my posts, and they gave me my space. We all knew what was important during that time. They were saying social distance, and this pandemic is no joke, and they know,” he stated. “There’s a lot of elderly people in Hawaii, and a lot of young people too. I know they don’t want to put their family at risk, or my family. So respect to them.”
For those who don’t actually believe Holloway did some of his training via Zoom, “Blessed” set the record straight.”
“I seriously did the Zoom stuff. I was a big advocate of staying home, being smart, making all the right decisions,” he said. “Especially with the lockdown in Hawaii, it was super-serious when this pandemic happened. It was serious, I’m serious about it.”
For those that still don’t believe him, Holloway pointed out that “I had four title fights in a matter of 12 months. I got a bunch of experience. I don’t need sparring. I’ve been sparring since I was 16, I’m 28 now. I’ve been sparring a bunch. It was just good to reset. It was like a hard reset for me, and I feel great.”
Max Holloway returns this Saturday at UFC 251 in the co-main event, looking to avenge his previous loss to the Australian and reclaim his title.