As he leaves for Fight Island, Max Holloway is ready for redemption at UFC 251

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LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – DECEMBER 14: Former UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway prepares for a title defense against Alexander Volkanovski during UFC 245 at T-Mobile Arena on December 14, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images)

Ten days before his UFC 251 featherweight title fight against Alexander Volkanovski, Max Holloway started his trek from the islands to Fight Island in Abu Dhabi.

It’s been over six months since Holloway’s last fight when he lost his featherweight belt to Volkanovski on Dec. 14, 2019 in Las Vegas. A lot has happened in the world since then, but Holloway feels more than ready.

“I’m so ready. I’m so blessed. I just can’t wait to fight,” Holloway told KHON2 sports director Rob DeMello from Honolulu International Airport on Wednesday morning. “Some people were put on this earth to do certain things and I truly believe I was put on this earth to fight. I can’t wait to show the world why I’m one of the best fighters in the world.”

Volkanovski and Holloway went the distance during their last fight, with Volkanovski winning via unanimous decision due to a flurry of leg kicks. Like Holloway, Volkanovski has not fought since last December.

“The biggest takeaway that I learned from that fight is that if Australia ever was looking for someone to point karate for the Olympics since it got pushed back, we got a guy after July 11,” Holloway said.

“It’s just a crazy time man, I’m just blessed to be a part of it. The guys behind me that have taken these travels with me, we all got families, they all got families and they’re putting it all out on the line for me and I’m super grateful for them. I’m super grateful for everyone that is going to tune in and support.”

Holloway’s time in quarantine during the COIVD-19 pandemic allowed him to spend more time with his loved ones. It has also allowed him to reevaluate himself as a fighter. As he flies out to Yas Island, he says he feels as good physically as he has during his entire career as an MMA fighter.

“It helped me figure out a lot of stuff about myself and about life, period. So you can always take when something bad happens and always find the good,” Holloway said. “This training camp was one of the special ones and I can actually say for the first time ever I think that I’m actually going there injury free and what I mean by injury free, not getting a new injury for the fight. You always get that nagging stuff but this is the first time ever that I’m going in there feeling fresh. I feel one hundred. No excuses and I can’t wait to show the world.

“I guess we have to move on from the ‘Blessed Era’ and come July 11 everybody is going to see the hair era and that’s world we’re moving with.”

Holloway entered 2019 with a rare chance to hold two belts simultaneously, but lost the UFC lightweight and featherweight title fights in the same year. Although his next shot to earn ‘champ champ’ status in all likelihood won’t come in 2020. It won’t come until he can get the first one back.

“This belt ain’t for me. It’s not for me, it’s for Hawaii, it’s for my family and my friends and everybody on my team that makes sacrifices. I got five belts at home in the closet. The belt doesn’t make me,” Holloway said. “Every fight I’m 0-0. I know how much it means to a lot of people, how much it means to people of Hawaii and those who are at some place and they’re going through something. This one is for them. I’m going to get it back for you guys and show you guys that if you really want something, you guys willing to do it, you guys go out there and you work hard, you put in the time and great things happen. This is what it takes for success.

“There are bumps. There are ups and downs. After the rain there’s always a rainbow, so great things is upon us.”

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