Remember when Max Holloway was the best boxer in the featherweight division?
Pepperidge Farm remembers. So, too, does famed boxing trainer, Teddy Atlas, who previously went on record to call the former 145-pound titleholder “the complete package” with elite-level striking on par with a “professional boxer.”
So, what happened against Alex Volkanovski at UFC 276?
“Volkanovski keeps getting better, let’s start with that,” Atlas said on his latest podcast (transcribed by Sportskeeda). “But no, I don’t think that’s what was at play here. 75 percent of the fight business is mental. I think there was a dimension of that... [Holloway] felt that pressure where this is [his] last shot at it, possibly, at the title again. Some of it had to do with Volkanovski, but bear with me, he basically threw it out the window, and he became just a sick and destroyed guy. That’s not Holloway, that hasn’t been the great Holloway.”
Holloway lost his featherweight title in a decision loss to Volkanovski at UFC 245 then failed to get it back in their UFC 251 rematch. The promotion eventually booked a third and final showdown between the pair, with “The Great” once again prevailing by decision.
“Volkanovski put on an exhibition of boxing that was just superlative,” Atlas continued. “I mean, he gave an exhibition of what the ‘sweet science’ is all about from every dimension. From using his legs, the potshot on the outside, getting angles, counter-punching going forward. He closed the gaps so fast in spots, he reminded me of a younger [Manny] Pacquiao, where he could close the gap and not get caught.”
Volkanovski improved to 25-1 with the victory and could move up in weight to challenge former lightweight titleholder Charles Oliveira for the vacant 155-pound strap later this year, unless Conor McGregor somehow finagles yet another division title shot.
No word yet on what’s next for the 23-7 Holloway.
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