ABU DHABI – Max Holloway doesn’t think UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski is carrying himself like one.

Ahead of their UFC 251 co-main event, Holloway (21-5 MMA, 17-5 UFC) presented a laid-back, nonchalant demeanor Tuesday during a virtual media day session. He shrugged off respectful criticism from Volkanovski’s coach, Eugene Bareman, and declined to interpret criticism Volkanovski (21-1 MMA, 8-0 UFC) recently has shot his way.

An hour later, Holloway spoke to reporters, including MMA Junkie, at an in-person media scrum held on the “Fight Island” premises. Holloway still presented a calm demeanor but openly took exception with Volkanovski’s recent prods.

“Did you guys interview him yet?” Holloway told MMA Junkie. “Did any of you guys interview him here? How’s he talking? Is he talking like a champion? At the end of the day, I feel like he’s attacking me. He called me out to fight. That (sounds like) something a challenger does, doesn’t it? I don’t know. This guy has been saying stuff. He’s the one who’s been saying he’s got a chip on his shoulder about something. He’s ready to prove something.

“In my eyes, you’re the champ. What are you trying to prove? If you believe you’re the champ, who are you trying to prove anything to? I’m not trying to prove anything to (anyone). I knew I was the champ. There are certain things, like the belt, that is for people to understand where I was coming from. At the end of the day, his interviews speak for themselves. You can go look and tell me any different.”

Holloway, who says he trained without in-person contact for this rematch, didn’t seem bothered by the influx of criticism this week – nor did he seem emotionally invested by the prospect he could reclaim his title Saturday at UFC 251.

Instead, Holloway lived up to his “it is what it is” mantra by expressing this fight feels the same as the rest.

“You might kill me,” Holloway said. “You might think differently, but it’s just another fight. I got five of those titles at home. They’re all in my closet. This guy could beat me two more times, and he still won’t have the same amount of titles as me. I’m beating him in that case. At the end of the day, it’s just another fight. The belt is the belt, like I said.

“I’ve been telling you guys I was the champion when I was 3-3 in the UFC. We’ll just take it one fight at a time. It’s something cool when you win this one at the end – another belt. The UFC better give me another belt.”

UFC 251 takes place Saturday at Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN and early prelims on UFC Fight Pass/ESPN+.

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