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Max Holloway on Alexander Volkanovski vs. Brian Ortega: ‘I’m the cloud over that fight’

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Former UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway is willing to hang back as current titleholder Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega figure things out.

One month removed from one of the most spectacular displays of striking talent ever seen in the octagon, Holloway is surfing, hanging with his family and playing video games. Whomever comes out a winner in Volkanovski’s first title defense to not include him, he’ll be waiting.

“Everybody knows that I’m the cloud,” Holloway told What the Heck. “I’m the cloud over that fight. I’m the cloud over the division. Let them two guys focus on each other, and then let the rain continue after.”

UFC President Dana White said Volkanovski couldn’t deny Holloway a trilogy given the ex-champ’s showing against Calvin Kattar, which dropped jaws for its dominance and brutality. Kattar was a hungry up-and-comer with every reason to beat Holloway, and Holloway had shown he was on another level.

“He did what he needed to do in spectacular fashion tonight,” White said. “I think that he deserves to fight Volkanovski again.”

The Australian champion already holds two wins over Holloway, though the second was a flashpoint for the ongoing debate on MMA scoring. Even with that, he concedes a trilogy is inevitable.

Historically, that kind of certainty that’s proven fatal to master plans in MMA. And so Holloway isn’t going to get too invested in either outcome when Volkanovski defends at UFC 260 on March 27.

“I have no idea,” he said when asked to predict the fight. “Styles make fights, and whoever shows up. We’ll see what happens. We’ll see the way it goes, and let the best man win.”

With his life outside of fighting more solid than ever, Holloway is less engaged with the minutae of the sport. There are other things in which to invest his energy, and the title will be there or it won’t.

“You guys heard me talk about it multiple times – you’re not a champion because you have a belt,” he said. “I carried myself [like] a champion before the belt. I’ve got five of them at home, and one of those little clown ranger things that goes on them. I love being a dad. That’s the best thing.”

Such an outlook is understandable given the heartbreak that preceded it. Holloway was angry when he put everything into the Volkanovski rematch and judges didn’t recognize his work. But it also brought a new perspective on his path in MMA.

Holloway’s work in the octagon is proof that it’s a winning mindset. If there’s anything he does want from his time in MMA, it’s the recognition of a lasting contribution in the sport. That would be just as meaningful as another title, even though there’s little doubt a second reign as featherweight champ would be worthwhile.

The point is, Holloway is thinking bigger than just the belt.

“When all this money and fame and interviews, when they don’t want to interview me any more, I want my name to be among the greats in all of sports, not only this division,” he said. “Whatever it takes, let me know, and I’m willing to walk that road.”

Right now, he’s the prize waiting for the new or returning champ, the spoiler and the cloud. Those are roles he’s just fine with.