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Interim champ Max Holloway now not so sure about UFC 208 date with Jose Aldo
TORONTO – Newly crowned interim UFC featherweight champ Max Holloway of course wants to fight undisputed champ Jose Aldo at UFC 208. But he also has some concerns.
“I don’t want to give up my son’s birthday and Christmas for Feb. 11, and (Aldo) don’t show up,” Holloway (17-3 MMA, 13-3 UFC) said at the post-fight news conference following his title win in UFC 206’s pay-per-view headliner at Air Canada Centre in Toronto. “This guy has a knack for not showing up to the fights.
“I’ve got to talk to (UFC President) Dana White first, man. I’ve got a brunch. I want to sit down with him and (UFC matchmaker) Sean Shelby, and we can talk some business.”
By all appearances, business was already in motion as soon as he stopped ex-lightweight champ Anthony Pettis (19-6 MMA, 6-5 UFC) in the third round. Cameras picked up White pitching the Feb. 11 pay-per-view event in Brooklyn, N.Y., and Holloway used it as a springboard for his social media campaign directed at Aldo, who was promoted to undisputed champ after Conor McGregor reportedly relinquished the title.
Holloway, the No. 2 fighter in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA featherweight rankings, called out Aldo in no uncertain terms, and renamed the champ “Waldo” for his absence in the featherweight division. But that’s what he’s done for the past six months, while also questioning the current champ’s heart and willingness to fight him.
Now, he’s the champ – or a champ. Holloway was so excited about winning the title, he pitched himself onto the octagon fence, only to fall over it onto the apron.
With a clearer head, Holloway is open to UFC 208 but isn’t relying on it.
“Like I said, this is my golden ticket,” he said. “For all I know, that mother(expletive) (Aldo) is always getting hurt and pulling out. This might as well have been the true belt. Most true fans know the story.
Conor’s coach said I’m the best 145-er in the world, and Jose is saying he wants to retire, un-retire, then he gets the belt, and then he wants to go up a weight class. I don’t know. Most true fans know the storylines, and most true fans said this should be for the belt.”
Given the fact that Aldo was appointed the undisputed champ and, depending on who you believe, McGregor gave it up or was stripped, the question of a rematch with the Irish champ hung in the air.
Holloway offered no resistance to the idea, with the UFC lightweight champ marking his last defeat in the octagon. But he said it wasn’t in the slightest a top priority.
“I ain’t over here begging for fights,” he said. “If (McGregor) wants to fight me, he can come fight me. You’ve got so many guys begging on their knees to fight him. If he wants to fight me, he can come see me. If you want to fight the best, you come fight ‘Blessed.'”
That was just one of several lines Holloway had in his pocket. He had clearly prepared for this moment and enjoyed it. Onstage, he wore a garish gold tie made from mirrors and a suit lined with gold fabric for the press conference.
“Solid gold – everything gold,” he said. “Murder outside, and we were coming to a funeral, and we did the funeral, and now I’ve got my gold belt.”
He talked about potentially defending his belt in his native Hawaii, a warmer option than Canada, though Toronto was no less supportive. He predicted if he fought McGregor, the UFC would have to hire an army of security personnel to break up fights in the crowd.
“You guys laugh now, but you think Brazilians is crazy – Hawaiians don’t talk,” he said. “They just punch somebody.”
Holloway said the belt won’t change who he is and he’ll continue to approach fights like he’s 0-0. When he does meet Aldo, he’ll try to wear the Brazilian champ down before stopping him.
Only he’s adamant that he’s not wasting his time by signing a contract.
“I promised my son a trip to Disneyland, and that would definitely interfere with it,” he said. “I’ve got some bumps and bruises that I want to take care of, and we’ll go from there.”