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Max Holloway: ‘It takes a special, unique person to do’ what Conor McGregor is doing

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Esther Lin, Sportsfile

LAS VEGAS – It’s been a little over two years since Max Holloway lost to Conor McGregor, it what was the Irish firebrand’s first fight on U.S. soil. Now McGregor is not only carrying an interim title in the featherweight division, but he’s headlining one of the biggest weekends in UFC history against Jose Aldo.

As for Holloway? He’s rebounded from the loss nicely. He’s fighting on the same UFC 194 pay-per-view as McGregor, and he’s quietly looking for his eighth straight victory. Should be beat Jeremy Stephens on Saturday night, Holloway will have made it two years in a row where he posted 4-0 records.

In other words: Since losing to McGregor, the 24-year old Holloway has been a hotter fighter than anyone in the division, including McGregor himself. The problem is he’s down to earth — maybe too down to earth. He’s having a hard time finding a star role in the Conor McGregor Show.

Not that Holloway is going to change any time soon.

"No, not at all. I’m not a talker," he told MMA Fighting during the Ultimate Media Day at the MGM Grand. "I’m a doer. I just like to go do stuff. I’m not going to change me just for some extra money. I think the UFC does a pretty good job of backing me. It’s going to come if I keep doing what I’m doing and I’m not going to change, and I’ll stay rooted. That’s what it’s about.

"Some people change and they forget and they get caught up in this act. It sucks, when they try to get out of the act people look at them as this act and it’s hard to get away from it. I ain’t trying to be one of those guys. I’m a family guy, I’ve got a beautiful wife, a beautiful son, and I couldn’t be happier."

Along with Frankie Edgar and Chad Mendes (who face each other Friday night in the main event of The Ultimate Fighter 22 Finale), Holloway is right there in the conversation for possible title contenders. A win over Stephens would keep him there. Stephens has won four out of his six fights since dropping down to 145 pounds.

Whatever the case, Holloway is happy to be included in the UFC’s historic weekend, which features three fight cards and three nights, and culminates with Aldo and McGregor.

Asked if he could have known that McGregor was going to blow up where he has back when he faced him in August 2013, Holloway said the hype machine goes together with talent really well.

"I can’t say [I saw it getting this big], but when I look back at it, how much PR they was pushing on that guy, it kind of makes sense," he said. "But, I didn’t know. Who knows. The UFC backs someone and then it stops. It’s just business. Business is business, and it just so happens he’s business right now. So, hey, great for him. I see other guys hating on him. If it’s so easy, then why don’t you do it? It takes a special, unique person to do it, and he’s doing it. And he’s backing it up, so kudos to him. All I can say is that I’m going to work hard and I’m going to get there some way."

Holloway (14-3) said he would love to avenge his loss against McGregor at some point. But then again, why stop there?

"It’s not only him," he said. "I’ve got three losses in the UFC. I’d love to fight all three of them. That’s just the competitive side of me. If you’ve got a loss and you’re like, oh, I don’t know about it, you don’t belong in this sport. You’re second-guessing yourself already. I believe I’m the best in the world and I want to fight all of them. You know, if I win, then I mark the loss off and maybe we have a third one. We’ll see what happens."

Holloway remains the only fighter to take McGregor the distance in a UFC fight. McGregor won a unanimous decision when they met, despite suffering a torn ACL midway through the bout.