The former UFC featherweight champion tells Yahoo Sports' Kevin Iole he's excited to face Calvin Kattar and find out who he really is in the Octagon.
KEVIN IOLE: Hey folks. I am Kevin Iole. Welcome to Yahoo Sports. And you know, one of the great things about my job, getting to do what I do, is all the great people I meet. And my next guest, they don't get any better than him. The former UFC featherweight champ, Max Holloway. Max, how are you doing, pal?
MAX HOLLOWAY: I'm doing good, bro. Happy new year. Happy new year. Hope everything is good.
KEVIN IOLE: Happy new year to you. Congratulations are in order. I know you got engaged toward the end of the year. So, something good for you came out of the lousy 2020.
MAX HOLLOWAY: Yeah, yeah. It felt good, you know? With all this lockdowns, everybody going in lockdown, this and that, I was like, I better jump on this lockdown training. I proposed to my girl. She said yes. You know, I bamboozle her. And, I got her to say yes. So, I guess I won 2020.
KEVIN IOLE: So is she teaching you how to surf?
MAX HOLLOWAY: Yeah. She is. She teaching me and [INAUDIBLE] how to surf. So it's a great time in the household of the Holloways. And, I'm not going to lie. She's kind of scaring me with these surfing skills. That dude might be-- he might just beat me. But you know, I always tell him, just remember, bro. Don't be running around too much. Everybody got to come out the water sometime.
KEVIN IOLE: There you go. Exactly. Well Max, on January 16th, it's going to on ABC in what I think is going to be a fabulous fight. Calvin Kattar. Kattar is number six. Max, of course, is number one in the division. And Max, let's start there. Most people, if I'd say, hey, the number one featherweight in the world, they would get a smile on their face.
I don't see a smile on your face. You're used to being at the very top of the division. Does it hurt, you know, those two fights with Volkanovski. You lost both of them. He's now the featherweight champ. Could have easily won both of them. You know, they were such close fights. Does it hurt to hear that number one contender as opposed to featherweight champion?
MAX HOLLOWAY: I mean, like the good old saying of Ricky Bobby. If you ain't first, you last, right? And, at the end of the day, you know, that last fights, there's nothing that I can be mad about, you know? What we said, you know? 80% to 90% of the world thought we won the fight, you know? And like I said, this ain't fans. This ain't just fans thinking that. This is like, this is like a who's who, you know, like, you know, like, for us, GSP's coach said it. Big John McCarthy. The guy who pretty much invented the ruse. Then you got guys like Nate, Dustin, Justin, Jorge, you know?
At the end of the day, if those guys, you know, my competitors, told me I didn't win all the fights, you know what I would've did? I would have moved to Brazil and try to fight every single day of my life to prove that I'm the better fighter, you know? That's just-- that's just what I would have did.
KEVIN IOLE: That's how you are, no doubt. Well you know, in Calvin Kattar, you're fighting a guy who has beaten a lot of really good opposition, has been on a roll, coming off a really nice win over Dan Egate. And he has an advantage from the standpoint, I think, that, you know, you are his Super Bowl. You're the big game for him. You know, he's never been at the level that you've been at. And he's just another fight for you. How do you get that motivation up to make sure, when you been where you've been to the promised land, now you're just fighting on a Fight Night show, how do you get that motivation up where you know Calvin Kattar's going to have it?
MAX HOLLOWAY: I mean-- I mean, like I told you many times before, I got five titles, you know what I mean? Like, those titles, we talk about the titles. Those titles don't mean nothing to me. That was just letting everybody know who the champion was, or whatever, you know? It's just superficial, I guess you can say in a way.
But, at the end of the day, we fighting five rounds, you know? There's no way, there's no less of work. I got to still do the same amount of work as if I was doing for a title fight, you know? It's the same rules, the same everything, you know? And Calvin, he's a dangerous dude, you know? And we know he's dangerous, because he will be standing across from me come next week Saturday, you know? And I'm excited for it. I'm excited for it. He's from Boston. A lot of people like to talk about his boxing. A lot of people like to talk about my boxing.
So, the funny thing is, and like you said, you alluded to it. You said it. You know, like, I mean, Calvin was saying something, that I'm overlooking him, this and that. Like, you know, I can't, you know? How can I overlook you? You made it here. I got to respect that, you know? And at the end of the day, it's just-- I just can't wait to fight him. I can't wait to fight him. I can't wait to go in there and just see what he has to offer.
KEVIN IOLE: Is there any way that this is anything other than a 25 minute stand up fight? Could you see this? You know, you've got some jujitsu submissions. Is there any way that this could end up on the ground? Or do you think this is just a barn burner where, you know, you guys kick box and box and see what happens?
MAX HOLLOWAY: It's an MMA fight. It's a mixed martial arts. So I don't know. I don't know. We see what happens, you know? When we go in there, things change on the fly all the time. You know, you've got to be able to roll with the punches. You got to be able to figure it out. And I can't wait. I just can't wait to see. We find out in nine days.
KEVIN IOLE: When you go back and you look at the rematch with Volkanovski. You know, I know you feel you won the fight and you did that. But you, you know, you analyze the fight and, what could I have done better? Is there any thought in your mind at all, you trained yourself via Zoom, that not having coaches with you to work on technique might have hurt you in any way?
MAX HOLLOWAY: Not at all. Not at all. There's no thought. There's no regrets. I did what we did. We did what we did. We can't go back. It's called the past. It's called the past for a reason. You know? It's like spilled milk to me, you know? You're not going to put it back in the container. You wipe it up, you move on, you get on with the day. And I just get a hard work. This ain't my first rodeo. I told a lot of people, if I got to go out there, get a 10 streak, 10 win streak, that's what we've got to do.
But, at the end of the day, I will go out there, focus on what I need to focus on. And that's Kattar. And you know, I got a manager, that his job is to do all things outside of the Octagon. So, I told him, I want to go do my thing come next Saturday. You make sure you do your job after.
KEVIN IOLE: How many times this year do you think you're going to fight, given that you get to start fairly early in the year? Is it conceivable that we could see you in the Octagon four times this year? That's a lot of fights.
MAX HOLLOWAY: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, four-- I never know. And you never know. Four times, three times. I'm a guy who used to fight three times a year. So we see what happens. We see what happens. First things first. Like I said, we got work to take care of first. And then we can do it fair. But, if I had my way, definitely I would love to fight three times. At least three times.
KEVIN IOLE: Right. Where do you see your advantage over Kattar in this fight? I know you believe you're a complete MMA fighter and that you can handle yourself no matter where it goes. But where do you think your advantage over him is?
MAX HOLLOWAY: We don't know, you know? And the beautiful thing is that, the only difference between me and him is that I've been here. I've been here and he's new to here, like you alluded to in your last question. And, we get to find out, though. I don't know. I've been here. I can say this and say that. But, the ultimately thing is that, we get locked in the Octagon for 25 minutes. And we really get to find out. So I'm excited for that time.
KEVIN IOLE: I know you were close with the former heavyweight champion, Daniel Cormier. And I wonder if you learned something from him in the sense that you know, he loses a fight to John Jones and comes back and rebuilds and wins a Championship. And, you know, a guy that you're close with and who has mentored you over the years. You know, he's done what you're trying to do. You know, lose a championship and come back and gain a championship. Has DC been helpful to you either consciously or just by his actions in any way helping you with your mindset and getting on?
MAX HOLLOWAY: Oh for sure. For sure. DC's a big help. I call him out all the time about being the baddest man on the planet. If he wants to fight, if he want to come out of retirement. Because I know he's eating right now, you know? We can fight super heavyweight, DC. That's my own plan. And I own that belt. But, you know, all jokes aside, that guy is a big help.
You know, he calls me here and there, to check in. He talks to me. Just to talk about stuff, talk about life, talk about the way I approach fights. About-- I got to talk to him a little bit, during this camp here and there. And he talks to me about approaching or what his mindset or this is the kind of things to think of. So it's super cool. Super cool that I got somebody, like you said, on my side, you know? And that's been there, done that. And I got to learn through him.
KEVIN IOLE: Do you feel like that's a role that you're going to have? You know, he's kind of like this big brother to a lot of people in the UFC. And MMA community in general, not just in the UFC. Everybody adores him and they look at him for advice. And you know, people are fighting. They hear him commentating in the cage, and they adapt what they do.
You're a really smart guy. You're a guy that likes people, that likes to, you know, loves the sport. Do you see yourself down the road, you know, kind of being in that role?
MAX HOLLOWAY: Maybe. I can't say no. I love to talk. You know me, over the past years, I'm extremely about, like, having mental health and making sure you take care of yourself and especially your brain and where you're thinking. So I don't see why not? You know? And me and DC did a Q&A on ESPN+ not too long ago. I was trying to take his detail job. So, it wouldn't be the first time me trying to take his job.
KEVIN IOLE: Well good luck with that. Maybe you're DC's successor in that gig. You're doing a great job, though. So he set a bar high for you.
MAX HOLLOWAY: Oh, thank you.
KEVIN IOLE: Anyway, before we let you get out of here, Max, I want to get your thought. You know, you fought Brian Ortega, big win over him. He came back with a win over the Korean Zombie. Is now going to fight Volkanovski. How do you see that fight going? Who do you think has an edge, if either of them, when they fight?
MAX HOLLOWAY: We see what happens, you know? It's a fight game, you know? I don't know. I don't know. The only thing I'm excited for is that, if the fight does get booked and the division [INAUDIBLE] hold up and I do my thing and I work my way and we can keep it going.
KEVIN IOLE: You get a chance to get a rematch with somebody, right? Either way, it'll be a rematch.
MAX HOLLOWAY: That'd be fun. That'd be fun. Either way, it'd be super fun. I can't wait.
KEVIN IOLE: I can't wait until January 16th when that guy right there is going to be fighting Calvin Kattar in Abu Dhabi, Fight Island, on ABC. Kind of cool fighting on ABC, isn't it?
MAX HOLLOWAY: Really cool. Not kind of cool. Really cool. Really cool. We get to fight on Fight Island, with fans, I heard. Did you hear that it is allowed fans? And now on ABC 20. 20 plus years. 20 plus years of open combat sports. And I get to be the first card back. It's amazing, man. I can't wait.
KEVIN IOLE: Well good luck, brother. I appreciate you, as always. Best of luck in the fight and we will see you soon. Be well Max.
MAX HOLLOWAY: I appreciate you. You be well.