Max Holloway gets emotional about Hawaii wildfires: ‘It feels a little bit heavier now’

Max Holloway is fighting for much more than himself this weekend.

On Saturday, Holloway faces “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung in the main event of UFC Singapore. But while his body is in Singapore, Holloway’s heart will be back home in Hawaii, as earlier this month the state suffered one of the deadliest natural disasters in American history when wildfires devastated the Lahaina area, destroying most of the property and killing at least 115 people, with over a thousand still missing. It’s a disaster that brought Holloway to tears when asked about it at the pre-fight media day.

“You guys saw how everything went down, how the Lahaina people were let down by the state, by the government. But the Hawaii community, they stepped up,” Holloway said. “The people stepped up, the Hawaiians stepped up, and then after the Hawaiian’s stepped up, the world stepped up. You guys are seeing everything, people helping — the UFC is helping out with ‘UFC loves Hawaii’ and so on and so on. It’s just a tough thing. I just shared my story about how some people ended up passing away.

“It’s just tough, man.”

A native of Waianae, Holloway has represented Hawaii through his entire UFC career and won the UFC’s Forrest Griffin Community Award in 2021 for his charitable work, in particular his efforts in Hawaii where he raised money for and served as a global ambassador for the Hawaii and Maui Foodbanks following the COVID-19 pandemic. And while Holloway will almost certainly contribute to the recovery effort after Saturday’s fight is over, on fight night the former UFC featherweight champion says he intends to represent for the people currently affected by the fires.

“Those guys are the real heroes right now,” Holloway said. “They’re going through it, and my walkout song is going to be a dedication to them, and they said we should use red to solidify those guys that are in the fire and going through it. I’m actually going to be using red for the first time in my UFC career. I’ve been using the black universal and I was able to be granted red for the shorts. A lot of things. I always go in there with Hawaii on my back, but it feels a little bit heavier now.”

Aside from the emotional weight of the Hawaii tragedy, Holloway also has to contend with expectations this weekend. “Blessed” is a prohibitive betting favorite over Jung, with many pundits writing Jung off entirely following his recent loss to Alexander Volkanovski. Holloway doesn’t agree though, and with this purportedly being the final fight of Jung’s career, the Hawaiian believes he’s in for a heck of a fight come Saturday.

“You’re only as good as your last fight,” Holloway said. “It’s not like basketball or baseball, wherever you go, you can have one off game and three days later you can go off. This, you have one off night, you don’t fight three months, four months if you’re lucky. Sometimes sooner, but that’s if you’re really lucky. But at the end of the day, I believe that if I was coming off my Volk fight and he’s coming off his Volk fight, this would be way different. The talks would be way different. The talks would be about, ‘This is a retirement fight for both guys.’ We’ll see what happens.

“At the end of the day, it is what it is. I pay no mind. I think it’s one year and four months Korean Zombie is going to be out, so I’m expecting the best Korean Zombie there is. He had one year and four months to get healed, to get healthy, to get better as an athlete, to get better as a person, period, and he got to get all his affairs in order. We’ll see. I think a dangerous ‘Korean Zombie’ is going to show up Saturday night and I’m looking forward to it.”

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