By: King Eddie
With his second bout in the UFC against yet another strong grappler, many questioned what the young Max Holloway's game plan would be. Needless to say, it was to win.
To many, Max came into his bout against Pat Schilling with the memory of his first career loss hanging above his head. But to Holloway himself, he entered the cage with a lesson learned and a whole new bag of tricks. The strong wrestling of Schilling meant nearly nothing as Max sprawled fast and hard, taking away the "go-to" weapon of his opponent.
The first round saw Holloway on the mat for mere seconds. His butt seemed to have springs attached as he bounced right back to his feet. With the boost in confidence for Max, and the emotional dump that Schilling must have felt, the fight began to move into cruise control for Holloway as he continued to blast the body and head of his visibly deteriorated opponent.---
"When he took me down and I shot back up to my feet, I could see in his eyes that he was giving up already. I thought to myself...He's Done" Said Holloway.
As both fighters made their way to the center of the cage for round two, it was abundantly clear that Schilling was feeling the tide against him. He came hard with his strikes and tried to shoot for more takedowns, but he was met with the recently revamped wrestling of Max Holloway, thanks to Team MMAD and Gracie Technics. The momentum was fully in the corner of "Blessed".Body shot's, knees, clinchwork, kicks, and footwork became the menu items that Holloway happily served to Schilling, who was beginning to look not quite as thrilling as many believed he would be. Max was taking the wind out of him and then turning up the heat.
" There really wasn't a body shot game plan. I just landed a big body shot and then Dustin and Rylan were in my corner telling me to go to the body, so that's what I did."
Multiple times in the second stanza, as well as the first, Schilling looked to be rocked and wobbled, but Max found little openings for the kill shot. In the closing seconds of round two, Max found a home for some murderous punches and a brutal knee that put Schilling on his butt. Following with vicious punches, Holloway was closing in on the finish, but the bell would save Pat Schilling, for the time being.
"I was really trying hard to get that finish but I got to show more in the third."
As he entered his corner before entering the final five minutes of the fight, he was reassured by his corner of exactly what he needed to do to seal the win.
"Rylan just told me to stick to the game plan. Stick and move, stick and move. So that's what I did. I didn't want to over-commit and let him get lucky so I just stuck with the game plan."
Throughout round three, Holloway continued to follow through with his previous two rounds worth of demonstration. He throttled Schilling to the point of breaking his will. And as the round drew to a close, the victory was in the hands of Hawaii's own, Holloway.
As the voice of the octagon, Bruce Buffer, entered the cage, he met Max with some kind words...
"Bruce Buffer came in the cage and told me 'Good job. Good job. I love that jab!', said Holloway. "I even heard that he was praising me during the fight too. That's unreal. It feels so good to hear things like that. When I got my hands raised and walked out of the cage all I could think about was coming home. I get back to Hawaii tomorrow and I can't wait to see my family. To see my wife and my son."
Truly, Holloway claimed this win for all of those fighters here in Hawaii who have taken the same path he has. The garage gym warrior. The every card fighter. The underdog. The Local Boy.
"If you're in a garage gym, don't give up! I came from a garage gym. Garage fighters train harder. I did. I had something to prove and I think I just proved it. Finding yourself is up to you. You have to push yourself. Always push yourself. If people look down on you, that's their own fault. It's their loss. Just keep doing what you need to do to get to where you want to be."
Congratulations Max Holloway. The young scrapper from the west side of Oahu who captured his first win in the UFC and took one more step towards his life goal. We are all proud of you.