Conor McGregor, meanwhile, continues to lay claim to the 145-pound championship he won 14 months ago but never defended, even though the UFC no longer recognizes his version.
Unlike so many others, though, he’s not going to go out of his way to beg for such a fight.
“Everyone knows who the money fight is and everyone is begging for it,” Holloway said on a recent edition of The MMA Hour. “But at the end of the day, Conor’s going to fight who he wants to fight. So I’m not going to beg for that fight. It’s just one more guy on their knees. I’m going to get my own damn money fight, and if Conor wants to fight, then let’s fight.”
McGregor, of course, went up in weight — twice fighting Nate Diaz at welterweight, then winning the lightweight title from Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 — in part because he looked like a dead man walking over his last few weight cuts down to 145. Holloway, though, believes that McGregor can get back down to 145 if he really wants it.
“We’ll see. Everyone says, ‘oh, he’s too big, can’t make the weight,”’ Holloway said. “I think he’ll make the weight. If he really wanted to come down, we’ll really see what happens. At the end of the day, we’re professional athletes and we know how our body answers to stuff we do, and if we really wanted to do something, he’s made the weight before. If he really wanted to, he could come back down for sure.”
Holloway, of course, is smart enough to understand McGregor has plenty of options at the moment — whether that’s his dream of a boxing match with Floyd Mayweather, a matchup with the returning Georges St-Pierre, or even a a trilogy fight with Diaz. But Holloway maintains that if McGregor ever feels like coming back to 145, McGregor knows where to find him.
“He knows if he ever comes back to 45, he knows who is his toughest fight down here,” Holloway said. “He can some see me when he’s ready. Other than that it is what it is. If the fight happens it happens. I’m not going to be, he’s going to choose who he wants to fight. I’m not going to beg, you just look like another crybaby looking for a handout.”
In the meantime, there’s the matter of whittling down the number of featherweight belts in circulation, which will happen when Holloway meets Aldo at UFC 212 in Rio on Jun 3.
The date was recently finalized after a protracted set of negotiations that date, really, back to UFC 205. When that bout didn’t come about, Holloway accepted a UFC 206 matchup with Anthony Pettis to make sure Aldo’s options were limited.
“He said he didn’t want to fight me, he said he wanted to fight Anthony Pettis because Pettis was an easier fight,” Holloway said. “I called my manager after that bullshit and said I want to fight Pettis next, take out all the guys he wants to fight so he’s forced to fight me. It could have been 206, so we got Pettis and now there’s the situation with the all the belts going on. He couldn’t defend at 205. I understand the interim title, but at the end of the day, this guy can’t be saying no one wants to fight. He’s the one who didn’t want to fight.”
Aldo finished Pettis at UFC 206, then the next round of back-and-forth began. A foot injury — for which Holloway is still undergoing physical therapy — nixed an idea for a UFC 208 fight in Brooklyn. Then talks of Aldo vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 209 came and went.
Expecting Aldo to accept that fight, Holloway took a role in the movie Den of Thieves, which will keep him from training for several weeks. Ultimately, it ended up with Holloway and Aldo agreeing on the UFC Rio date and things worked out.
“The reason why we took the movie is because I heard the news of him maybe fighting for a 155 interim title,” Holloway said. “I was like, I’m not going to wait around. You know him, he takes pretty lengthy breaks in between fights because who knows why, and I wasn’t going to wait around for him. It is what it is. He didn’t get [the Nurmagomedov] fight, I got the movie, now everything is lined up perfect.”
Holloway remains annoyed with how long it took to put the fight together, but at the end of the day, he finally got a fight he’s long coveted.
“The way I look at it, if you’re the best in the world, you fight the best in the world anywhere anytime. Things happen, injuries stopped me from fighting Feb. 11, which killed me. This is one of fights I wanted since was like 19 years old, watching the guy since WEC. Now we’re here, we have the date, it’s in his backyard, and I’m excited to prove to the world I’m one of the best.”