One of the most iconic montage moments in cinematic history came in the movie “Rocky III,” where the movie’s protagonist, Rocky Balboa, trains for his title fight to “Eye of the Tiger.”
Life has imitated art in combat sports, as UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway’s current 11-fight winning streak has also been serenaded by a soundtrack.
Back in 2013, Holloway adopted “Hawaiian Kickboxer,” by Moses Kamealoha or “Moke Boy,” as his walkout song before fighting Will Chope in Singapore. Riding a two-fight losing skid into that bout, Holloway has since embarked on a cosmic rise to the top of the sport after reaching back to his roots for inspiration.
“I always told myself I wanted to walk out to that song when I made my UFC debut,” Holloway said of his organizational premiere versus Dustin Poirier in 2012.
“I don’t know. At first, I wouldn’t be getting hyped, but then I found out Moke Boy is from Waianae, Nanakuli, the west side. Then I found out his father was my janitor when I was a little kid,” he added.
Saturday night Holloway (18-3, 14-3 UFC) will take the walk to the Octagon for the first time defending his golden belt when he faces Jose Aldo (26-3, 8-2 UFC) at UFC 218.
Before he embarked on his MMA aspirations, Holloway began kickboxing as a student at Waianae High School when he was 16 years old.
Moke Boy used getting kicked out of Waianae and learning how to kickbox as inspiration for the song.
“(I’m) just proud. Proud, happy, honored,” Moke Boy said. “That’s the big one is that [I’m] honored that it’s doing what it was supposed to do. He was like, ‘Uncle, I like run out to your song,’ and I was like, ‘Go bradda, use ’em. That’s what it’s for.'”
While most fighters in the UFC using high-energy uptempo rhythms to set a tone for their pre-battle mood, Holloway’s smooth entrance featuring Moke Boy’s snapping ukulele mimics his spear-sharp stand-up game.
“Every time I walk in there, that’s why I have the flag on,” Holloway added.
“I walk in there with Hawaii, Waianae on my back and just want to show kids that if you guys have a dream, go do it. Go out there and do it,” he said. “That song means a lot to me. It leaves me feeling some type of way, and if you see every time, bright yellow. My mouth is bright yellow, and that’s because I have a yellow mouthpiece, and I’m smiling when I hear that song turn on. I know it’s about time to go out there and put in work. I get to finally show the world, show Hawaii, show my loved ones, show my family, my friends, the haters what I’ve been doing for the last six weeks and go out there and put on a show.”
Holloway will look to put on that show in the main event Saturday in Detroit. The main card begins at 5 p.m. HST on pay-per-view.
Makaha’s Yancy Medeiros and Maui’s Cortney Casey are on the events prelims. That starts at 3 p.m. HST and can be seen on Fox Sports 1.