On July 7 in Las Vegas, Waianae’s Max Holloway (19-3) will return to the Octagon to defend his undisputed UFC featherweight championship against number-one contender Brian Ortega (14-0-1) in the co-main event of UFC 226.
Memorial Day marked the official start to fight camp for the champ.
Despite Holloway’s approach that never really takes him away from the gym for any extended period of time throughout the year, the 42 days leading up to fight week turns the temperature up.
“I get super crazy around camp. It’s funny. We had a couple of people come in and they see me, and they see a fun kid sometimes talking and laughing through my workouts, and then they see me in camp and like I’m just focused. I get in and I get out, because I got other things to do and they ask D (coach Darin Yap), ‘Is Max having a bad day or something?’ And it’s like no, my whole mind switched. It’s definitely crazy. Those six weeks are definitely different. After the six weeks, it’s that lovable kid again, but you might not like the kid for six weeks at a time,” Holloway told KHON2 Sports Director Rob DeMello.
Being at the top brings added obligations. This past weekend, Holloway was followed by the production team behind the “UFC Countdown” series, a documentary-style production that airs the week of UFC pay-per-view events following the lives and training of the UFC’s biggest stars prior to their event.
“This is what comes with it. Everybody wants this fame, until they get here and then they see what they got to do and they see you doing this, and you missing training because you gotta do media obligations and you got to do sponsor obligations,” Holloway said. “At the end of the day, it’s a balance. You know what you’re getting yourself into. I kind of had a mind of what I wanted, and a lot of people when they get here, they don’t want it no more. I still want it. I still want all this. This is what comes with champ, you know?”
The crew followed Holloway from his workouts at Tactical Strength and Conditioning to his sparring at Gracie Technics Honolulu to his family time with his son, Rush, at the 50th State Fair.
Holloway, who is riding a 12-fight winning streak, says he welcomes what many could view as a distraction.
“I was a champ way before the gold belt. I told myself the work you guys see me putting in here, this is what champions do. All this fame, all this stuff comes with when people finally understand that this guy is a champion. The belt is just a belt. I’m about to go get like 20 more of them. It is what it is. The champ, the work, everything is out here in the gym,” he said.
Also on the fight card for UFC 226, Makaha’s Yancy Medeiros will face Mike Perry in a welterweight bout.
One day prior at the UFC’s Ultimate Fighter Finale, Hilo’s Brad Tavares will face middleweight Israel Adesanya in the main event on FS1, while Waianae’s Rachael Ostovich fights on the undercard against Montana De La Rosa in a women’s flyweight bout.