A UFC legend admitted to training solely through Zoom calls for his upcoming championship rematch at UFC 251 on July 11 in Abu Dhabi. Former featherweight champion and future UFC Hall of Famer Max Holloway revealed that stunning information to ESPN’s Ariel Helwani in an interview that published to YouTube on Friday.
“Everything we were doing [was] through Zoom,” Holloway said per ESPN. “If you got caught at the gym, because there was lockdown and stuff, we all could have gotten arrested. It was a little bit more of a sacrifice for me on my end if I went out there. You know [the authorities are] gonna make a point. [They] see my butt out there, ‘Yeah, let’s get this guy. Let’s make a point and put fear into people.'”
That means heading into the arguably the biggest fight of his life, Holloway admitted to having made some pretty drastic changes to the way he prepares himself to fight. Holloway said he never even saw his coaches in person until they were headed to the airport and didn’t have any training partners for the entirety of camp.
Holloway Hopes to Reclaim UFC Featherweight Title
Holloway hopes to regain the featherweight title he lost to Alexander Volkanovski in what was each man’s last fight.
Holloway entered the first bout last year having won 12 straight contests within the division, but he was pretty much handled over five rounds at UFC 245 in December by the physically imposing featherweight monster Volkanovski.
Holloway admitted to ESPN that making such wild changes to his UFC 251 training camp was “challenging” and “difficult” but that he didn’t expect it to hinder his performance in the Octagon on fight night.
In fact, the 28-year-old American said being forced to drastically change his training methods for the fight due to the COVID-19 pandemic helped him realize he probably didn’t need to spar that much anymore.
“I love sparring,” Holloway said. “But this camp actually opened my eyes. We don’t really have to spar that much anymore. We’re at that point in my career, I know how to punch, I know how to kick. I know how to apply it.”
Holloway Didn’t Spar Anyone During Camp
Holloway said he didn’t spar at all for this training camp but that he still expects to be at the top of his game once he enters the cage at UFC 251.
The longtime fan favorite told ESPN he still considers himself to be a champion in the sport and that he’d prove that to everyone else during the UFC’s first event on Fight Island at UFC 251.
“Nothing has changed to me, to be honest,” Holloway said. “I still feel like I’m the champion, I still get love like I’m the champion. I need to go out and fight like a champion.”
In an interview with MMA journalist Kevin Iole, Holloway said he didn’t need to spar because he already knows how to fight.
“The [camp] was different, but it’s not like I forgot how to fight,” Holloway said. “I know what I need to do, and this is an opportunity because it’s a special event, Fight Island, which people are saying is the biggest event of the year. No other sports are going on and so many eyes are on us. That excites me and I believe I will go out there and put on a show like I do.”
Whether it’s the right move remains to be seen. That it’s a bold one is quite apparent.
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