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Max Holloway not chasing third Alexander Volkanovski clash: ‘I’m not gonna force someone to fight me’

Following his latest win, Max Holloway sees big things ahead even if that doesn’t include a third meeting with Alexander Volkanovski.

Holloway snapped a two-fight skid on Saturday, putting on a thrilling and dominant performance against Calvin Kattar in the main event of UFC Fight Island 7. It was an outing that was reminiscent of some of Holloway’s best and undoubtedly kept him in the thick of the featherweight title picture.

Unfortunately for Holloway, his two recent losses were both in championship bouts with Volkanovski, which would normally preclude a third meeting from happening again so soon. In their first meeting at UFC 245, Volkanovski outpointed Holloway to win the featherweight title. They fought again seven months later at UFC 251 and Volkanovski won another decision, though the verdict was more controversial than in their first fight.

In his in-cage post-fight interview, Holloway expressed more of an interest in serving as a backup fighter to next Saturday’s UFC 257 main event between lightweights Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor. Later in the evening, he also mentioned the possibility of fighting Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Another fight with Volkanovski appears to be the furthest thing from Holloway’s mind.

“We’ll see what happens,” Holoway said at Saturday’s post-fight presser. “Even with Khabib, Khabib is saying he wants something that’s super interesting. Maybe I pushed him over the edge a little bit. We had one of the best press conferences in the world, I think, we just didn’t have the fight. So we could throw that in if he wanted to. Volkanovski said—This is his words, not mine—he said he wants a different fight. He don’t want a tougher fight, guys, let that sink in. He wants a different fight. He didn’t say I want a tougher challenge. He knows who the toughest challenge is, he knows it’s me, so at the end of the day I’m not gonna force someone to fight me.

“I’m gonna stay ready, do whatever I gotta do, and just be ready. Like I said, I’m here until next week. If something happens in this crazy wild sport, don’t be surprised. Tune in next week to the pay-per-view, huge pay-per-view, there’s a bunch of surprises happening.”

Holloway and Nurmagomedov were actually briefly booked to fight at UFC 223 back in April 2018. After Nurmagomedov’s originally scheduled opponent was forced out of that event’s headliner due to an injury, Holloway (the featherweight champion at the time) volunteered to fight Nurmagomedov and the two even made a promotional appearance to sell the fight. The bout was later canceled when it was determined that Holloway was medically unfit to compete that weekend.

According to an announcement from UFC President Dana White on Saturday’s broadcast on ABC, Nurmagomedov told him he might consider ending his retirement if the right opportunity comes along, hence Holloway’s renewed interest in challenging Nurmagomedov.

Getting the chance to hand “The Eagle” his first loss or avenging losses to Poirier or McGregor are exactly the kind of challenges Holloway is looking for at this stage of his career. Considering that he’s repeatedly joked about going up to heavyweight to fight his friend Daniel Cormier, it appears that every elite fighter is on Holloway’s list.

“I want legacy fights, I want big fights, I want fights like this, we’re on ABC,” Holloway said. “I want history. So belt, no belt, whatever it is, I want to fight. … You guys think someone is the best fighter in the world, you guys tell me, let me know. I’ll sign on that dotted line.”

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