Alexander Volkanovski’s trainer, Eugene Bareman, admits he was impressed by Max Holloway.
This Saturday, Volkanovski takes on Holloway in a featherweight title trilogy fight as the co-main event of UFC 276, and having already spent 50 minutes training him against him, Bareman acknowledges that Holloway has impressed him. by its improvements between fights.
“I will just say that I think both have improved since their fights,” Bareman said when asked if Volkanovski or Holloway had improved more. “I think they both improved a lot. Look, Max showed me, in this second fight, something that I didn’t think he was capable of. He was able to quickly pick up on things that take your average fighter a lot longer to teach – and he’s not your average fighter, I guess that’s what he showed me. Max was able to do that, and I’ve said it before, we went for a more conservative game plan given the time we had, where we just changed a few subtle things, and left it at that. That’s what we did and we thought Max would try to change a lot of things and he wouldn’t succeed. It would be his loss, trying to change too much in a short time, and we were lucky to be right, even if we were only right.
In their first fight, at UFC 245, Volkanovski picked up a clear unanimous decision victory over Holloway, outplaying him on the feet and finding particular success with the leg kicks. In their rematch at UFC 251, Holloway took a different stance to counter leg kicks, giving Volkanovski serious problems and winning the first two rounds on all three judges’ scorecards. The featherweight champion was eventually able to adapt and won the last three rounds on two scorecards to earn a controversial split decision win, but heading into their trilogy fight, Bareman says Holloway’s adaptability is now something they had to prepare for.
“His ability to learn something and apply it very quickly, in a relatively short period of time from [first] fight,” Bareman said. “Now we know there are a number of things that Max is now able to change now, given that the fight has been going on for a while. We know that Max could have changed a few things. You have to remember that some fighters take years to do certain things, some of the adjustments that Max was able to make in a relatively short time, a few months.
Holloway and Volkanovski have had a lot more time to adjust their games since their second fight. While the rematch only took place seven months after their first fight, nearly two years have passed since Volkanovski-Holloway 2. Meanwhile, Volkanovski and Holloway each won a pair of fights and looked better than never. So with that in mind, Bareman says the team has developed a strategy for this fight that will allow them to adapt on the fly as needed.
“We have a strategy, we have tactics there, and we have to establish them early,” Bareman said. “We need to at least see this strategy early so we can start to assess the direction in which we need to take this strategy because it can go many places.”
But in the end, even if their plans have to adapt, Bareman sees Volkanovski put in another standout performance to retain his title.
“A five-round masterclass,” Bareman said. ” An outcast. Just like the first fight was for Volkanovski.
UFC 276 takes place this Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.