Max Holloway knows how the game is played.
With only very rare exceptions, you don’t go into Brazil as a foreigner, main event against a Brazilian competitor, and get to play the role of good guy with the fans.
So even though playing the villain isn’t exactly the likable Hawaiian’s most comfortable role, it’s one he’s willing to play.
“It would be stupid to think I wouldn’t be the bad guy coming to the fight,” Holloway said at a recent press conference in Rio de Janeiro. “I’m the bad guy, and I’m embracing the role. He’s got to do his job. Show up June 3, and let’s get it done.”
Holloway knows a fighter who keeps himself in the headlines, whether for positive or negative reasons, is one who is going to get a response from the fans, and, more often than not, end up as the fighter with the biggest paychecks. Since he’s never been one to shy away from giving his opinions anyway, he’ll roll with it.
“Superheroes got dark sides now,” Holloway said. “Everyone wants drama. Everyone is living for drama. You know? You either grow with this sport or you get left behind. It’s sad, but it is what it is. You gotta keep up with this sport. If you want to be a superstar and make a lot of money, this is what you do. Some people take it a little overboard, but its always fun poking at people and seeing how they react. It’s good and bad for the sport, but us athletes, we’re trying to get our money and trying to get paid.”
With that in mind, Holloway had a gift for the UFC featherweight champion at the press conference: a soccer ball.
“I came with a soccer ball because the old boy said he wants to go ahead and play soccer after he’s done fighting,” Holloway said. “Us Hawaiians, we like to give gifts, and this gift is for him. He’s going into retirement. It’s right here. He can have the ball, and we can get this fight going.”
Promotional bluster aside, though, Holloway’s got nothing but love for Brazil, and looks forward to the opportunity to compete in the spiritual homeland of mixed martial arts for the first time in his professional career.
“I love it, MMA as a whole owes it to Brazil,” Holloway. “The sport was born here andI’m just excited. I’m excited to fight in front of these passionate people and these passionate fans and being in the Octagon on the opposite side of Jose.”