Max Holloway became a UFC champion by perfecting his punches playing video games and must beat Calvin Kattar to get back to the top
The first of three Fight Island cards for the UFC kicks off this week with an exciting showdown between Max Holloway and Calvin Kattar.
Holloway is a former featherweight champion who has tangled with both Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier before, the two bringing down the curtain on the first Fight Island of the year.
The 29-year-old is coming off the back of two featherweight title losses to Alexander Volkanovski, while Kattar comes into this fight off the back of an impressive 2020 where he secured victories over Jeremy Stephens and Dan Ige.
Maybe it’s worth Holloway picking up a copy of UFC 4 if he’s going to be at his best for such stiff competition.
Why, you ask? Because Holloway revealed in 2019 that he learned and perfected many of his punches from playing.
“You know the UFC game? I’d use Renan Barao and Jose Aldo, and I’d do stuff with them,” he explained.
“I’ll be like: ‘holy hell, this works in the game!’ So my friend at the time, Dustin Kimura, he would hold mitts for me and I’d be like: ‘look, I tried this in the game and it was working, let’s try it’ and we did it.
“I would try the combination, and I’d be like ‘Oh, this kinda works so let’s try it’. Why not? It got me that far.”
Ironically, Holloway beat Aldo twice during his career so it turns out studying the Brazilian legend’s moves on UFC games really did help.
Speaking to talkSPORT, Holloway elaborated on how the games have really helped him develop.
“I knew how to kickbox and all this, but I was figuring out combos. Like, Renan Barao, he was a killer in that first UFC game. I remember using him and there was a couple of combos I would do and I got like three or four KOs in a row using the exact same combo!
“I was like ‘Bro, we’ll call this the Renan, we’ll call this the Aldo,’ there was a bunch of things that I learned from the game that we put in real life. It was super fun and super cool. People were like, ‘you’re just playing games’ and I was like ‘no I’m not!’
“It makes me better at fighting and I wasn’t lying.
“I beat Aldo twice because I knew him like the back of my hand from playing the video game!”
Holloway lost to Volkanovski at UFC 245, ending his reign as the 145-pound champion which saw him defend the title three times against featherweight mainstays in Aldo, Brian Ortega and Frankie Edgar and wants to get another crack at the title.
To do that, he has to make a statement against Kattar to remain in contention in Abu Dhabi.
“Calvin is a dangerous dude, and we know he is dangerous because he will be standing across from me, and I’m excited for it,” he added.
“He’s from Boston. People like to talk about his boxing and people like to talk about my boxing, so the fun thing is … Calvin was saying something like I’m overlooking him, this and that. I can’t. How can I overlook you? He made it here.
“I’ve got to respect that. At the end of the day, I just can’t wait to fight him. I can’t wait to go in there and see what he has to offer.”
UFC 4 has been a relative hit with fight fans since it’s release in 2020 and while a little one dimensional, it’s a very satisfying game when it comes to the striking dynamics. Maybe Holloway will take note once more.