By: King Eddie
With UFC 160 a mere day away, our local fighter, Max Holloway, prepares for what could be the toughest test of his UFC career. And in all the pre-fight media blitz, I would like to take a chance to cover this story in a slightly different way. The fact is, we all know what Max plans to do on Saturday against Dennis Bermudez. We also know what he has been working on, who he has been working with, and what he tells all the media he is thinking in the days leading up to the fight. So with this, I'd like to give you my perspective on what drives this kid to great heights such as these, and how that is his greatest asset in this fight.
Max was a guaranteed 120 lbs (soaking wet) when I first met him. The guy has always been slightly unassuming. In the early days, much like today, it seemed to work in his favor. Time after time back in the early years of his career, Max would literally go to war regardless of the amount of fans in the room, or exactly how many were cheering for him. He was overlooked at the weigh-ins, he was overshadowed on the fight cards, and he found something in himself that carried him to victory either way.
Against TUF finalist, Dennis Bermudez, Holloway faces a wrestler the likes of which he's never faced before. He also faces a striker, in a sense, and a Jiu-Jitsu player. For the second time in his short UFC career, Max Holloway faces a well rounded fighter. Cap that off with the intensity and chin that Bermudez carries, and it makes one crazy beast across the cage. But what Bermudez doesn't realize, is that Max has always faced a new kind of monster. Nearly every time he's fought, UFC or otherwise. It's nothing new to Max, to be facing the toughest test of his career. Hell, all of his fights have been just that.
In my mind, I like to think that Holloway puts everything aside during his bouts. Imagine if you will, fight night. The crowd, the lights, the sounds, the smells, and the pressure. Now envision, if you will, seeing it through the eyes of Max Holloway. An empty room with a cage containing his opponent. I'm sure that is how many fighters would like to see it, but Holloway certainly seems to. But Bermudez has always seemed a little swayed by the crowd. He moves in for the kill at times when he needs to hang back, all because he gets emotionally wrapped up in the sights and sounds going on around the fight. That is a deadly flaw when dealing with the calculated nature of Max Holloway.
The most impressive thing about Dennis Bermudez to me, is his ability to continue to win in the UFC. When I watched his season of TUF, I can't lie, I thought he'd be the first to go. He didn't seem to be very special at all. But since his loss in the TUF finals, Bermudez has come to win. He puts on hellacious fights that are back and forth brawls at times. He's won the Fight Of The Night Bonus on multiple occasions, and I don't think anybody will disagree with it's legitimacy. But there is something special about Max that even his once doubters can't deny. The kid is born to be a champ, and he is motivated by much more than the aspiration to win.
"Blessed" has done something magical here in Hawaii. He's turned nearly all of his naysayers into fans. He's gone from overlooked to idolized. And contrary to popular belief, it has little to do with his technique in the cage. What has changed the public view of Max Holloway, has been his unrelenting drive and motivation. His determination to reach out to his goals and grab them by the balls. He has grown, not only as a fighter, but into a man. Tirelessly Holloway trains and toils, improving his game, while loving and laughing and praying with his family. He's found a new home within his wife and son. He's found shelter in his team. He's found happiness in his home. So you tell me. . . what motivates his opponent. If it is anything less than an island nation on his shoulders, and a family in his heart, then it's safe to say than our hometown warrior has the upper hand.
This Saturday, when Max Holloway and Dennis Bermudez enter the cage, there will be a battle for all to witness. Once again, Holloway will face seemingly insurmountable odds, and yet again he will overcome them with his family and his home in his heart. Good luck Max. We will all be watching with pride and admiration.