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Teddy Atlas says Holloway ‘gave it all up,’ succumbed to ‘pressure’ vs Volkanovski

Famed boxing trainer and combat sports analyst Teddy Atlas weighs in on the Alex Volkanovski-Max Holloway title fight at UFC 276.

Former UFC champion Max Holloway was eager to reclaim the 145-pound title from reigning title holder Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 276 last weekend. What instead happened was a “masterclass” from the current champion, ultimately solidifying his spot as the division’s king and in the UFC’s pound-for-pound rankings.

For most observers, Volkanovski was simply on another level as he continues to vastly improve as a fighter and champion. But for legendary trainer and combat sports analyst Teddy Atlas, it could be that Holloway failed to show up that night because of “pressure.”

“This is what I think was at play for the most part: again, 75 percent of the fight business is mental. And I think there was a dimension of that, where Holloway… I thought he won the second fight with Volkanovski,” he said in his YouTube show The Fight with Teddy Atlas.

“… I think that he felt that pressure. He’s winding down in his career, and I thought that he felt that pressure where ‘this is my last shot at it, possibly’ — which it might very well be — at the title again. ‘And I gotta push the envelope. I gotta come outside of myself a little of what I normally do, my normal approaches, and I gotta do a little more…’

Atlas described Holloway as an “extraordinary striker/boxer” who had a length and reach advantage over the shorter Volkanovski. But he feels the Hawaiian let go of it all during this third fight.

“He looks like he could be a boxer sometimes, when he performs the way he could perform. And he had that long reach, that long jab. Volkanovski is shorter. So you figure he was going to try and apply those skills and that mentality. That’s him at his best,” Atlas said.

“He gave it all up,” he said. “And some of it had to do with Volkanovski, but bear with me here. He basically threw it out the window, and he became just a sick and destroyed guy. That’s not Holloway. That hasn’t been the great Holloway. He just came forward, walked in, and looked to just outgun Volkanovski,” he said.

As for the champ, Atlas has been nothing but impressed.

“Volkanovski, he put on an exhibition of boxing that was just superlative,” he said. He gave an exhibition of what the sweet science is all about, from every dimension. From using his legs, pot shotting on the outside, getting angles, counterpunching, going forward… he closed the gap so fast in spots.

“He reminded me of a younger Pacquiao. Where he could just close the gap and not get caught.”

With the 33-year-old Volkanovski pretty much wiping out the division, a possible run at lightweight is being looked at for his future. The win over Holloway extends his UFC win streak to 12, as he improved to a record of 25-1.

As for the 30-year-old Holloway (23-7), this failed title bid isn’t stopping him as he already plans to move forward and “rebuild.”