press conference, reaction, Alexander Volkanovski vs Max Holloway, Israel Adesanya vs Jared Cannonier, video

The last time Alexander Volkanovski and Max Holloway faced off was on “Fight Island” and amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

That, of course, meant one thing: there were no fans.

It’s very different this time around and if Volkanovski didn’t already know, he would have after Thursday [local time] press conference at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

From the moment the UFC featherweight champion approached the stage to every time he opened his mouth, the pro-Hawaiian tormented Volkanovski with a chorus of boos.

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Even as Holloway urged the crowd to “let him have it”, Volkanovski only spoke even louder, projecting his voice and waving at the audience with a defiant message.

“The boos, everything, the energy here,” Volkanovski said, “I love it.”

“I feed on it. Bring it on.”

This is not how most people expected Thursday’s press conference to go.

Sure, Sean Strickland can take you in a million directions with just one sentence while Israel Adesanya always has a verbal jab or two up his sleeve.

But Volkanovski and Holloway are different.

Even Volkanovski said Fox Sports Wednesday that there is no “villain” between the two, that this trilogy is not the product of an intense rivalry deeply rooted in hatred.

It’s just the case of two fiercely competitive fighters trying to cement their legacies at the top of the featherweight division.

Holloway in particular has been calm and composed all week, not getting too caught up in the drama and even suggesting that Khabib Nurmagomedov was referring to Volkanovski’s cooking show when he said the Aussie had more fire than him.

Everything changed at the T-Mobile Arena on Thursday, whether it was just Holloway playing for the cameras and pro-Hawaiian fans or an attempt to “get inside” Volkanovski’s head as the film put it. champion.

It started with a literal moment of the mic dropping as Holloway said, “This guy [is] speaking of a hat-trick…this guy hasn’t even had three highlights in the UFC”.

Alexander Volkanovski and Max Holloway face off.  (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
Alexander Volkanovski and Max Holloway face off. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

“Max came to play,” replied a surprised Volkanovski.

It didn’t end there either – Holloway was just getting started.

Volkanovski talked earlier in the week about how “incredible” it would be to be the first person to destroy Holloway’s “legendary chin”.

Holloway has taken a lot of damage in the past and that word – damage – is “everything” he’s heard from the media heading into Saturday’s fight.

In this case though, Holloway said the equation is surprisingly simple.

“I’m known for taking damage and he’s known for not giving it,” Holloway said.

To which Volkanovski shot back: “We’ll see on Saturday night.”

“That’s why you can’t train anymore, you hit too much air,” the Australian added.

“You can use them as much as they want, Saturday night is over for you.”

Volkanovski accused Holloway of trying to “get in the head” on Thursday, although the American had booked another sled for the Australian when it happened.

Volkanovski kept smiling, not letting the foul language get to him. Carmen Mandato/Getty Images/AFPSource: AFP

“I’m not trying to put you in your head,” Holloway said.

“If I tried it would be super easy, did you see the size of this one?”

All Volkanovski could do was laugh and ask, “Did you have bad weight loss or something, why are you so angry?”

The Aussie had his theories, suggesting that having run out of ideas after the first two fights, Holloway was now resorting to mind games to try and gain the advantage forward.

But a telling response from Holloway earlier in the press conference said it all when it came to his motivation.

“I told you the UFC tried to ice my ass off, putting me in closed places to fight,” Holloway said.

“We are back here, the ninth island, the volcano is coming, get ready.”

And if Volkanovski isn’t ready, if he starts like he did in the early rounds of Holloway’s second fight, the Aussie could find himself in a similar position.

Holloway was fired. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

But amidst all the chaos and chatter, there was one moment that stood out among the rest, where Volkanovski took the time to credit his rival and build that mutual respect.

“I’m going to be direct,” Volkanovski said.

“He gets another chance because he was stubborn and made sure no one else would get that No. 1 spot. He gets the shot, he did exactly what I would have done in his place. He gets my respect for that.

“But that’s it,” added Volkanovski.

“It’s just a third chance and he won’t get it.”

As for Holloway, he said the “one thing” he respects about Volkanovski is his cooking show.

Now is the time for the Aussie to bring that ‘fire’ that Nurmagomedov talked about earlier in the week. He made an appearance early Thursday afternoon.

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