Max Holloway (21-6) returns in the main event of UFC Fight Island 7, looking to put a pair of back-to-back losses against Alexander Volkanovski behind him.
The setting, Abu Dhabi, where the UFC will once again return, this time to kick off their 2021 year. The opponent, Calvin Kattar, a hard-hitting, fast-rising featherweight looking to inch closer to his own shot at gold.
The “Blessed Era” may have ended, at least for now, with Holloway losing his title to Volkanovski. But the Hawaiian was characteristically upbeat heading into the fight with Kattar.
In fact, Holloway appeared near jubliant. “Blessed” told Cageside Press during Wednesday’s media day that “I’m ecstatic. I would say I’m ecstatic. I’m so excited. In a new arena, we’ll actually be the first event in that new arena, I’ll be the main event for that new arena.” That new venue is the Etihad Arena, which is expected to be an upgrade from the Flash Forum, where previous UFC Fight Island cards were held.
And come January 16, when UFC Fight Island 7 goes down, the venue will be populated, albeit with social distancing restrictions in effect. “We got fans back, like five to eight thousand of them,” Holloway noted “And then like you said, on national TV back home in America. I can’t wait man, I’m so excited, it’s crazy.”
National TV, in this case, means ABC. UFC Fight Island 7 will be the promotion’s debut on the network. It will also represent the first time the UFC has been on broadcast television since 2018, when its deal with FOX ended.
The former champ had no advance notice of the card’s move to ABC, he revealed. Holloway found out with the rest of us.
As for opponent Kattar, the breakdown is simple, at least in Holloway’s eyes. “He’s a striker, I’m a striker. We’re going to go in there and do some more striking, so I can’t wait,” he stated.
Later, Holloway turned his attention to the judges. There’s an argument to be made that, in his second fight with Volkanovski (a split decision loss at UFC 251), he should have reclaimed his title. Despite some recent comments by UFC President Dana White, Holloway remains staunch in his support for open scoring as one possible solution to bad judging in MMA. Open scoring ensures that fighters (or at the very least their corners) are aware of the score heading into each and every round. The theory being, it may change their approach to the bout — especially if they know they are behind. Critics, conversely, feel fighters with a strong lead might coast in the later rounds.
“I know how I feel about the open scoring, and I heard how the boss man [White] feels about open scoring,” observed Holloway. “At the end of the day, that’s how he feels, but it’s not going to shake my stance on it. We ended up going to Kansas, we watched one of the Invicta fights [where open scoring was utilized earlier this year]. Just watching how it went down, a lot of questions were answered. The way that I thought it would effect the fight negatively, it really didn’t.”
Holloway doesn’t claim to have the answers, and doesn’t want to come off as a complainer. He pointed to classes like those run by “Big” John McCarthy, a key figure in the development of MMA’s rule set over the years, as another piece in the puzzle that fixing judging has become. In the end, he’s just hoping to see change for the better. “Hopefully sooner than later, they figure it out.”
Max Holloway faces Calvin Kattar in the main event of UFC Fight Island 7 (UFC on ABC 1) this Saturday, January 16, 2021. The event takes place in Abu Dhabi, airing live on ABC in the U.S.