It isn’t easy being a highly-touted prospect in mixed martial arts, in this sport if you have one bad day you don’t get to return next week and redeem yourself like you would in stick and ball sports by throwing a great touchdown or hitting a home run, or whatever they do in those sports where people don’t punch each other.
In the fight game, you get to march to that eight-sided cage and put everything on the line three times a year, maybe less and one mistake is the difference between a regular paycheck that reads Zuffa, LLC in the corner and the unemployment line.
Max Holloway might be the hottest young prospect working for the Ultimate Fighting Championship, at just 20-years-old the Hawaiian native showed off a wide array of striking in his fight against Pat Schilling that was all one-way traffic.
Holloway might not have intended on being a UFC fighter when he first donned a pair of gloves but when he was in his mid-teens he was already training in hand-to-hand combat.
“The community I lived in, there were a lot of fights, just a hectic community so you gotta grow fast. When I was 16-years-old I wanted to play Baseball but I had this friend who said he fought so I went over to his house to train and when I hit the speed bag the coach said I should come train.”
It takes some fighters half of their career to make it to the big-show, for Holloway it only took four fights in his home land of Hawaii before he got a call from UFC matchmaker for the lower weight-classes Sean Shelby.
While his Octagon debut didn’t go to plan, he was thrown into the 145-pound mix head first as he met consensus top-ten featherweight Dustin Poirier who was considered a win or two away from earning a date with UFC champ Jose Aldo at the time.
Even the most modest person doesn’t like losing, especially when it’s in front of nine thousand people in the Mandalay Bay Events Center, not to mention the hundreds of thousands watching from their living room but he got up, dusted himself off and returned better than ever with his mauling of Schiling.
This Saturday night he competes on his first pay-per-view main card as he looks to improve his record to have more wins than losses inside the Octagon, but he doesn’t have an easy task in The Ultimate Fighter cast-off Justin Lawrence.
Lawrence entered this past series as one of the key favorites to win the series but would up being eliminated by the eventual winner of the glass trophy and six-figure contract Michael Chiesa.
The 22-year-old didn’t leave the series empty handed though, on The Ultimate Finale he earned a UFC contract of his own defeating John Cofer and lining his pockets with $100,00 in award money nabbing the knockout and fight of the night.
Ironically enough, on that same night Hollaway met Schilling but he didn’t have his eye on the seemingly large lightweight competitor.
“He fought before me so I was in the back getting ready and I never thought he would be a 45-er, I thought he would stick being a 55-er so I didn’t get to scout him very much.” He stated.
And well, it seems that Holloway has a pretty clear strategy – Punch him, and after that, punch him again.
“Not taking anything away from him buy my striking is my best asset and I’m gonna do what I do best and strike – That’s what I plan on doing with anyone, I’ll always be striking because that’s what I’m good at”
It would be impossible not to draw the comparison between the most famous cage-fighter from Holloway’s home island, BJ Penn.
Both men entered the UFC in their early-twenties and made an early impact, Penn would go on to be one of the best fighters of all-time nabbing a UFC title at both lightweight and welterweight but Holloway isn’t ready to be just like his Hawaiian counterpart.
“I Respect the guy, he is a legend y’know? He’s the one that opened the door for all of us Hawaiians but he could do better. And he knows it too, some fights he comes in under-trained and he even says it,”
He continued “He’s a guy that pushed me to better myself, so he had too much talent and you hear of him in training camp not training and stuff then he gets tired and I don’t want to be like that. He’s got so many tools in the game and he doesn’t like to use it, I’m not as blessed as him so I have to work harder than him”
For the entire interview, be sure to check out this week’s episode of MMASucka radio that can be found here along with one-armed fighter Nick Newell and UFC 151 co-main eventer Melvin Guillard.
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