UFC

UFC Fight Island: No One’s Buying Max Holloway’s Claims That He Hasn’t Been Able to Train

Max Holloway has been a fan-favorite fighter for a long time. One of the reasons for this involves the hilarious things he says. For example, Holloway once claimed that he learned fighting moves from playing the UFC games. Now, with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the 28-year-old claims he hasn’t been able to train for his upcoming fight on Fight Island.

A look at the UFC’s Fight Island

Fight Island, which fans originally thought would involve a tropical island with an octagon in the sand, is actually Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. The UFC’s hosted events there before. Unsurprisingly, Fight Island is a pretty luxurious place.

That said, as a concept, Fight Island is supposed to host fights for fighters who can’t travel to the U.S. due to travel restrictions. This is why the organization’s first event on Fight Island, UFC 251, will feature many international fighters who couldn’t fly to America.

The UFC plans to continue hosting more events on Fight Island, so there’s a pretty big list of upcoming events there. For UFC 251, Holloway will have his rematch against Alexander Volkanovski, who snatched the belt from him a few months ago.

Max Holloway trains alone in Hawaii

While there are benefits to hosting fights on an island, for Holloway, a proud Hawaii native, there are some downsides. Since Hawaii is in the middle of the ocean, it was pretty easy for the state to lock things down to prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, like in other states, this meant shutting gyms down, too. 

Insider reports that Holloway’s gym in Hawaii has been closed for over three months. The fighter claimed he’s been unable to train at his gym due to this closure. So, Holloway decided to just not spar with anyone in preparation for his next fight. Instead, he simply called his coaches on Zoom and they’d train him over video calls.

His coaches confirmed the story. One of them, Rylan Lizares, even said he didn’t train Holloway at all. The fighter apparently only got to see his coaches face-to-face when they all boarded the plane to fly out to Fight Island. 

Holloway said he enjoyed this socially-distant training experience. He said, “I actually kind of liked it. We don’t even have to spar that much anymore. I’m at a point in my career where I know how to punch, I know how to kick, I know how to apply it, so why spar?”

Everyone is skeptical, though

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However, many people, including former double champ Daniel Cormier are skeptical of Holloway’s claims. Cormier said, “There’s no way Max Holloway trained on Zoom. He did something more.” Similarly, Holloway’s opponent at UFC 251, Volkanovski, is doubtful of the fighter’s claims.

Insider wrote that Volkanovski said, “That’s all s***.” Volkanovski went on to say he and his team asked the Australian government for special permission to train at their gym, and the request was approved. Volkanovski isn’t alone. Many other athletes have received special permission to train at their gyms with coaches and training partners.

That said, if what Holloway’s said is true, then it was probably a good call. Jorge Masvidal, who will also fight at UFC 251, won’t have his coach, Mike Brown, by his side. That’s because Brown, as well as many people who’ve been to Florida’s gyms, have tested positive for COVID-19, according to ESPN. This is one of the dangers of opening gyms just to train, so Holloway’s Zoom training regimen may have paid off in terms of safety.