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‘I didn’t ask for the rematch’ - Max Holloway says UFC 251 bout was all Volkanovski’s idea

It’s a rare thing in MMA when the fighter who wins the title wants to immediately run it back against the man he tool the belt from.

For many, Alexander Volkanovski’s victory over Max Holloway at UFC 245 was a surprising upset. The Aussie challenger had run up a seven fight unbeaten streak in the UFC to get there, culminating in a decision win over Jose Aldo at UFC 237. But even still, heading into the fight, it didn’t feel like he necessarily possessed the kind of striking arsenal needed to pick Holloway apart the way he ended up doing.

Perhaps then, it was the knowledge of that general surprise; the feeling that he, himself, had not quite yet imprinted himself on the minds of fans as a dominant championship fighter, which caused Volkanovski to ask the UFC to book a rematch with Holloway for his first title defense. That’s what ‘Blessed’ told MMA Fighting occurred, to see the Hawaiian once again facing the man who had bested him back in December.

“I didn’t ask for the rematch,” Holloway said. “I didn’t need to. He asked for it.”

Holloway’s claim can even be backed up going all the way to the post fight pressers for both men from their first fight. There a triumphant Volkanovski was quick to tell assembled media that Holloway deserved a rematch, and that he was ready to face the man again in the immediate future. Holloway, for his part, was much more circumspect.

“If they hit me up, it is what it is,” Holloway told the media after UFC 245. “The fans make it happen, it is what it is. I’m a fighter, I fight. But it’s a team decision with me. It’s not a me thing. I’m not all about myself. My team got me here. I’m going to sit down with my team, talk to Dana, and we’ll go from there.”

It’s likely because of that dynamic that – even amid the COVID-19 pandemic and heading back into a fight he just recently lost – Holloway sounds like he’s not feeling any extra pressure to perform or prove his mettle.

“No pressure,” Holloway said. “I’m 0-0 every fight. You know this, my man.

“The next fight is always the most important one. That’s how it works with the UFC—if you’re actually asking for the toughest fights. They give it to you if that’s what you want, and you know me. You know what I always ask for.”

UFC 251 takes place this Saturday, July 11th at Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. The event will be headlined by a welterweight title fight between Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal and features a bout for the vacant bantamweight title between Petr Yan and former featherweight champ Jose Aldo.

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