Holloway (23-7 MMA, 19-7 UFC) has beaten virtually everyone at featherweight in the past nine years – except Volkanovski, whom he’s lost to three times in title fights, most recently a shutout at UFC 276 in July.
But featherweight champion Volkanovski (25-1 MMA, 12-0 UFC) says Holloway hasn’t necessarily lost a step, but that he just elevated himself above Holloway and the rest of the division.
“I still think he was a great champ. I still think he’s a great fighter, and I still think he beats most of the top guys, anyway,” Volkanovski said in an interview with The AllStar. “We’ve got a very strong division, a lot of guys that are coming up. And obviously through watching me fight and watching some of the top guys fight, everyone’s going to start evolving more and more and more.
“So I feel like you’re going to start seeing these other guys that are rising up, really start to get up there, anyway. But I still think Max – it wasn’t Max went down, it was just I literally had him figured out and I just went to another level – especially my confidence and things like that. I think that’s what it was more about. I think he makes a very hard fight for anyone in our division.”
Holloway has yet to be booked for his next fight, but Volkanovski will chase after a second belt when he moves up to lightweight to challenge champion Islam Makhachev in the UFC 284 main event February 11. In the co-headliner that night, Yair Rodriguez meets Josh Emmett for the interim featherweight title.