After a valiant performance at UFC 266 on Saturday, featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski is finally getting his due recognition. But just ten months ago, the 32-year-old Aussie was in the firing line of criticisms because of his controversial split decision win over Max Holloway at UFC 251.
Many saw it as an unwarranted decision. A lot would agree that the former long-time 145-pound king was robbed of a rightful victory. But for Volkanovski’s coach Eugene Bareman, it was a “rhetoric” that was built through post-fight comments.
In a post-UFC 266 interview with Submission Radio, Bareman first revealed some apprehensions he had about taking the rematch with Holloway.
Let me just be a little bit honest. I wasn’t happy to do the Holloway rematch. I don’t know if I’ve ever made that public, but I was the one person in our team that said, ‘No, let’s not go to fight island, and let’s not fight Max.’ It was too quick a turnaround and there’s not enough in our favor, us being the champ, for us to go there.
So, I was dead set against it, and that’s the honest truth. I just felt that, I think there was six or seven months between the fights, and I felt that it was enough time for Max to make some really good adjustments and get them under his belt to a level that he could actually use them in a fight against Alex. Seven months I thought was enough.
And I didn’t think it was enough for us to figure out what those change in strategies and skills were gonna be for him, for Max. Because that’s a problem. Because you’re trying to guess something that you don’t have any hard evidence on. You’re doing a whole lot of guesswork. There’s no hard evidence there.
So, I felt everything wasn’t in our favor for that second Max fight. So, I was dead set against it.
And when we decided as a team to take that second Max fight and we come up with a strategy that we thought worked, we knew we’d be under the pump. We knew we’d be under the pump ‘cause we were playing a guessing game as to what Max was doing.
And there was a lot of stuff that we would have to work out on the fly for that fight. But in the end, we got the job done.
Bareman then directed his attention to former double-champ turned UFC analyst Daniel Cormier, who’s also a close friend of Holloway’s. He’s now urging fans to re-watch the fight on mute.
Another thing that annoys me about that fight is, people need to go back and watch that fight. People need to go back and seriously watch that fight, slow-mo it down, turn off the commentators and watch that fight.
In that second fight, yes, for the first two rounds, Max did keep it close where it could swing either way. I’m talking about statistically keep it close.
In the third, fourth, and fifth round, if you’re just going off the stats, they weren’t close. And if you watch the fight and forget the stats, the last three rounds weren’t close. You cannot give that fight to Max.
The problem, the ultimate problem was, you had the fraternity against Volk. You had the commentators, you had two chum-chum commentators, Cormier and Holloway, who I think they used to be in a relationship or something back in the day. They’re like ex-boyfriend and ex-girlfriend or something. They love each other.
Go back and watch that fight. Go back and seriously study that fight, and there’s no way. The first fight, absolute shutout. One of the most brilliant performances I’ve ever seen Alex (in). Shut one of the greatest... or the greatest featherweight out of all-time. And then the second fight, Max made the first two rounds close, but Volk shut him out in the last three.
Bareman expects Holloway to come out on top against Yair Rodriguez. If that pans out, he says he’d agree to a trilogy. And this time, he promises a more decisive win for his fighter.
We’ll fight Max again. And we’ll fight Max again because Max has beat Calvin Kattar and then now he’s gotta beat Yair Rodriguez. So, if he beats Yair Rodriguez, then we’ll be happy to fight him.
We’ll do a much better job. Since the rematch, we’ve got two more bodies of work to look at what Max looks like, after his last loss to Alex.
We have the Kattar fight and the Rodriguez fight, and that’s gonna make a world of difference in that trilogy fight.