Moments after defeating “Blessed” in a lopsided decision at the T-Mobile Arena, the 145-pound king spoke with the media and explained how Holloway’s comments throughout UFC 276 fight week helped Volkanovski “raise the bar” as a competitor inside the octagon to hand the featherweight legend his third straight loss in UFC title bouts.
“It worked against him because it gave me the fire. I needed that,” Volkanovski said on Saturday. “I was going to go to that [pre-fight] press conference, I thought it was going to be chill. I didn’t expect much. It ended up being chaos from all angles, which is fine. I wanted to go there, I was going to soak up the energy, even if it was boos, whatever, I was using that to get that fire in the belly.
“He started trash-talking, I was like, ‘Thank you, I needed that.’ I said it to him, that’s why I was chilling, I was smiling, like, letting him know that it ain’t affecting me, it ain’t getting inside my head. I don’t know if it was a part of his game to get inside my head and try make me brawl or something like that and fight silly, I don’t, but I was like, ‘Mate, you just put fire in my belly. That’s all you did.’ And at the weigh-in, now that I showed him that it didn’t work, I wanted to add on to that.”
Volkanovski said all the pre-fight theatrics were “more for myself,” that he “wasn’t trying to be disrespectful to him, it was more just to let him know that.”
“I wouldn’t be the fighter I am today without him,” Volkanovski said of Holloway. “He’s made me raise the bar. I don’t need anyone help me raise the bar, I do it myself, but he makes it easy to make me be disciplined.”
The UFC champion explained that comments from fans and media also helped lit that fire ahead of a fight in which he was the odds favorite, but somewhat discredited from his in-cage accomplishments.
“I’ve moved past it, so I don’t hold a grudge,” Volkanovski said. “It’s all good. But there was a time that sh*t did get to me. It was hurting, it was hard time, but it made me who I am now, so I’m proud that it happened. It was a good experience for me, made me unstoppable, invincible. A lot of people were bringing me down.”
Going 3-0 against Holloway, 12-0 in the UFC and 25-1 overall as a competitor, Volkanovski feels he should be seen differently by the MMA community after an “incredible” feat, scoring “three title fight wins over someone like Max rather than just other guys.”
“To sit there and take someone like Max three times, that’s really, really, really saying something,” he said. “They are a lot bigger wins than your average defense.”