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No sparring for Max Holloway ahead of Calvin Kattar bout, focused on ‘saving the brain’

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“Sparring is like an ego trip. I understand you got to do something but you can figure out different ways to move and get it done.”

UFC 240: Open Workouts Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

At just 29-years-old, Max Holloway has accumulated a whopping 933 head strikes in the UFC, so it’s no surprise to see ‘Blessed’ cut out sparring ahead of his upcoming featherweight bout with Calvin Kattar at UFC Fight Night 184.

Holloway stopped sparring prior to the Volkanovski rematch earlier this year and, although he lost the bout via split decision, the former UFC featherweight champion felt much better on fight night than he did in previous bouts.

“I really loved how the last camp I didn’t spar,” Holloway told ESPN in a recent interview (h/t Abhinav Kini of The Body Lock). “It opened my eyes. I get injured sparring a lot before fights and I felt great going inside that fight without sparring.

“… Sparring is like an ego trip. I understand you got to do something but you can figure out different ways to move and get it done. … During the whole training camp, it helped a lot to actually put our priorities straight. I got to take out some things, I got to add a little more things. It was just changing up the recipe and the last one, I thought went pretty well and we’re kind of sticking to it and we’ll see how this one goes.”

Holloway may look to eliminate sparring from training for the foreseeable future, as the Hawaiian is now focused on ‘saving the brain’ at all costs.

“No, saving the brain,” he said when asked if he was sparring for Kattar. “I want to be a guy who, third grade math is already hard, so I can only imagine if I was getting punched in the head and trying to help Mini Blessed.”

UFC Fight Island 7: ‘Holloway vs. Kattar’ will take place on Jan. 16 on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi.