This Saturday in Kansas City, MO, Max Holloway will look to right the ship and reassert his place as the only clear top contender in the featherweight division. ‘Blessed’ hasn’t competed since July of last year, when he dropped his title fight trilogy bout against Alexander Volkanovski, with the Aussie picking up a dominant unanimous decision win.
With time off to heal up and get back into the flow of things, it seems like Holloway should be well prepared for his next opponent, top flight British talent Arnold Allen. Then again, maybe not.
Max Holloway not sure what version of Allen he’ll face Saturday
Always known for his careful prep and game-planning, Holloway might be having a bit of trouble in the lead up to his fight with Allen. While he sounds as focused as ever on the opponent in front of him, the 31-year-old Gracie Technics talent can’t seem to get a bead on Allen’s skill set. To hear him tell it in a recent interview with Sports Illustrated, ‘Almighty’ doesn’t fight often enough—and has re-invented himself too much between fights—to know just what skills he’ll be entering the Octagon with on April 15th.
“We’ll see what happens,” Max Holloway said when asked about his future as a title contender at featherweight. “First thing first, I’ve got a tall task in front of me with Arnold Allen. He has that crazy win streak, he’s super athletic and he’s super hungry. I can’t overlook this guy. You start overlooking a guy, you fumble the bag. I’m not going to fumble the bag.”
“It’s hard to use any of his fights,” he added, speaking of Allen. “He fights like once a year—he always seems to get hurt, then comes back like a different fighter. I can go off some things he might do—I know he’s a very well-rounded mixed martial artist. There are a lot of questions going into this fight, and we’ll get the answers on Saturday.”
That can only feel more difficult given Allen’s recent performances. The BKK Fighters trained athlete looked decent, fighting a rangy striking battle last time out against Calvin Kattar. But that fight was cut short by a knee injury to the ‘Boston Finisher’, suffered at the end of the first round. Considering Kattar’s tendency for slow starts, it’s hard to know what kind of performance Allen might have been building toward.
Prior to that fight, Allen took an entirely different approach in a slobberknocker against Dan Hooker in March of last year. The 29-year-old charged out of the gate looking to trade heavy leather from the jump, got knocked down for his trouble, but overwhelmed the City Kickboxing fighter shortly afterward for the TKO win. That seems unlikely to be the kind of approach Allen could have longterm success with against Max Holloway.
Max Holloway doesn’t spar anymore
Of course, another wrinkle in the training end of things for Holloway is his past admissions that he’s stopped hard sparring during his camps altogether. Holloway announced his move away from gym wars back in 2021, in the lead up to his record setting domination of Kattar at UFC on ABC: Holloway vs. Kattar.
“You guys only get one brain. Save it,” Holloway reiterated at the post-fight presser after his Kattar win. “You guys don’t need to do it. You sparred enough. You trained enough. You know how to punch someone. You know how to slip a punch. Why even take unnecessary damage before the main game, you know? That’s just the way I think. And everybody who keep telling me that I should be training, no! I been training, baby!”
While the decision didn’t seem to hold him back any against other top contenders, it is notable that his third fight against Volkanovski was the least competitive of their bouts. Perhaps it’s worth wondering if difficulties in reading Allen’s game and a lack of full contact prep will make Holloway more cautious early in this bout as he looks to find his rhythm.
Max Holloway vs. Arnold Allen takes place this Saturday at the T-Mobile Center in Kansas City, MO. Alongside the featherweight main event, an action fight between Edson Barboza and Billy Quarantillo is expected for the co-main. Stay tuned to Bloody Elbow for more news and notes.
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