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Max Holloway happy to dispel ‘Pillow Holloway’ nickname with walkoff knockout at UFC Singapore

Aug 15, 2023Aug 15, 2023

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Max Holloway has one of the most impressive résumés of any fighter in UFC history, yet he still had something to prove in his fight with “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung.

Despite owning a long list of wins over MMA icons, including several jaw-dropping finishes along the way, the former featherweight champion was a little bothered that his reputation was mostly built around a volume striking attack essentially billed as a “death by a thousand cuts” style. Holloway often slices and dices his opposition, but he never secured an emphatic one-punch knockout until his UFC Singapore main event on Saturday.

“I needed a finish,” Holloway said at the post-fight press conference. “I was due for one. What better place to do it [than where I started] my 12-fight win streak before I got the title, here in Singapore. This was my first ever walkoff KO. It was amazing. Something was in the air.

“The people of Lahaina, Maui, they gave me their power in my right hand. They call me ‘Pillow Holloway.’ I was like, ‘OK, whatever.’ I guess we had stones in the pillowcase today. It was good.”

While the fight obviously ended in his favor, Holloway still had nothing but praise for the way “The Korean Zombie” came after him in what was ultimately the final fight of Jung’s career. Immediately after the main event ended, Jung announced his retirement from the sport — and Holloway was proud to serve as his final opponent.

“I think he knew exactly what had to be done,” Holloway said. “I think he knew what the job was. It was kill or be killed. I was just lucky that I was on top on the other side of it. We both threw right hands. Mine just landed a tad quicker. A half-second slower, who knows, his lands first what would have happened? I don’t know if I would have ate it or a lot of stuff could have gone wrong.

“I think I hurt him in the second round good. Between the second and the third, he was sitting there and being like, ‘I’m not going to coast through a five-round [fight], I’m going to die on my sword,’ and that’s what he did. That’s why people love ‘The Korean Zombie.’ He’s a legend in every way of the sport.”

The win on Saturday marks two in a row for Holloway since suffering a third loss to reigning UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski.

It seems unlikely that Holloway will secure a fourth fight with Volkanovski any time soon, but he is undeterred from his long-term goal to recapture the 145-pound title — and maybe even seek out more UFC championships along the way.

“I keep reminding these cats,” Holloway said. “People keep falling. People keep forgetting. I’m only turning 32 in December. I’ve been with you guys since I was a little baby. I hope you guys aren’t getting sick of me, but I ain’t going nowhere for a long time. Get used to it.

“They say your best years is in your mid 30s. You don’t really get grown man strength until your mid 30s. So I feel great. I want to win the title back. I want to defend it a bunch of times, and after we do that, maybe even go up a weight or two to get more titles. We’ll see what happens. Anything is possible.”

While Holloway clearly isn’t going anywhere except back to the gym to prepare for his next fight, he’s already cemented a legacy that will be remembered long after he’s gone from the sport.

More than anything else, that’s really what he wants for his career as he continues adding to an MMA record that he began building when he was still just a teenager.

“[I want to be remembered as] a legend. Like how [‘The Korean Zombie’] is remembered,” Holloway said. “A guy who transcended the sport, who changed the sport and who makes history. A guy that people are chasing when I’m long away from this sport. Setting records and goals.

“I just want to be hope. Hope for the next generation, for people who’s inspired to do whatever they want to do. Not only in this sport. If you want to be great, I want guys to be like, ‘This guy inspired me to do something great.’ Even if it’s not fighting, it’s something else. We’re only a good person if we leave this world better than when we were here. If I could change people’s lives, that would be the No. 1 thing.”