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Max Holloway: It’s hard to be mad when most thought I beat Alexander Volkanovski

Former featherweight champion Max Holloway isn’t too worked up about his controversial decision loss to Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 251.

After Volkanovski dethroned Holloway (21-6 MMA, 17-6 UFC) at UFC 245, the pair rematched seven months later. The fight was a lot more competitive. Holloway made adjustments and briefly dropped the champion on multiple occasions early in the fight.

However, two of the three judges scored the fight in favor of Volkanovski (22-1 MMA, 9-0 UFC), a decision that was widely viewed as controversial. Holloway knows it’s likely difficult to get a third crack at Volkanovski considering he’s down 2-0, but finds solace in the fact most scored the fight in his favor.

“It doesn’t matter what I think, but the UFC, (media), the world, they can see – 80-90 percent of the world thinks I won, and that’s what matters to them and that’s what mattered to me,” Holloway told ESPN. “Whatever job you have at the end of the day, what do you care about is what you’ve got to ask yourself. You care about money, you care about the company – for me, you care about respect. Respect from your peers.

“They were sticking their necks out for me. These aren’t fans, they’re fighters. Jorge (Masvidal), Nate (Diaz), Dustin (Poirier), Justin (Gaethje), the list goes on. Even Ali (Abdelaziz) and the Kawas. All these guys cannot agree on what color the sky is, but they agreed on one thing that night.”

Holloway returns Jan. 16 when he takes on streaking contender Calvin Kattar in a main event, and he’ll be looking to reposition himself into title contention. While he’s over the decision loss to Volkanovski, he’s not over Volkanovski himself and is happy to run things back with him as much as he needs to to prove he’s the better fighter.

“If it was Kobe (Bryant) and Michael (Jordan), they would play 10 times just to let people know who the best is,” Holloway said. “I strive for that mentality. If you want to run it back 100 times, we can do it. But I’m going to show you that I am the better guy – but that’s just the mentality. I don’t know what kind of mentality they have, what they seek and whatever, but that’s something they’ve got to figure out and they’ve got to do.”

In a September interview with MMA Junkie, Volkanovski, who’s projected to face Brian Ortega next, said he’d be open to a trilogy with Holloway down the line since “there seems like there’s still unfinished business.”

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