Max Holloway never had a clean knockout in his career until Saturday – so he admits supernatural forces must’ve been at work when he finished “The Korean Zombie” with a single blow at UFC Fight Night 225.
There was no short of emotion, as each man fought hard for victory with distinct motivations. For Hawaii’s Holloway (25-7 MMA, 21-7 UFC) this week was all about his home state, and in particular the citizens of Lahaina and Maui and all those affected by the recent wildfires there.
“Usually they give me the blackout walkout because we’re the main event and the red corner,” Holloway said at a post-fight news conference. “But I heard the whole arena they did red because they heard me talk about how the people of Lahaina was asking to use red in solidarity with them. The UFC did that and when I heard that, it was crazy. Mana. We use the word mana. It’s the spiritual power. It was here tonight. I could feel it. Like I said, you guys saw the emotion. You saw the emotion. I went crazy after I did (win), because there was so much emotion going on for the last two weeks.”
In early August, wildfires catalyzed by gusty conditions covered 17,000 acres of land in Hawaii. The fires killed at least 115 people and another 388 are still unaccounted for, according to a recent estimate.
Holloway was proud to represent a persevering group during a difficult time. He thanked the UFC for allowing him to wear red shorts, which aren’t typical for his “universal” fight kit.
While representation, awareness, and happiness were his objectives, Holloway thinks in turn the Hawaii people powered the final knockout blow.
“I just let everybody know that the people of Lahaina, Maui are still going through it,” Holloway said. “They’re true warriors. They’re enduring. They’re enduring the pain right now. Me being able to give them something to cheer for for 15 minutes was great. … This was my first-ever walk-off KO, so it was amazing, man. Something was in the air, man. Like I said, mana, spiritual power, was in the air. The people of Lahaina and Maui gave me their power in my right hand. They call me ‘Pillow Holloway,’ so I was like, ‘OK, whatever.’ I guess we had stones in the pillowcase today.”
With the victory, Holloway moved to 4-1 in his most recent five. His only featherweight losses since 2013 have thrice come to the same man, UFC champion Alexander Volkanovski. While a fourth crack at the same champion when down 0-3 in the lifetime series is unprecedented, Holloway is confident he’ll make history.
“Undeniable, man,” Holloway said of a fourth Volkanovski fight. “All week, I’ve been saying undeniable. I’m not here to call nobody out. That’s you guys’ job to figure that out. It’s the fans’ job to do for me. I’m just here to be undeniable, keep being undeniable. I’ll keep crawling, scratching my way to the top of the mountain. No one is going to stop me getting there.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC Fight Night 225.