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Max Holloway: ‘It’s time to move on’ from Conor McGregor in featherweight division

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LOS ANGELES — Max Holloway isn’t just viewing his UFC 212 main event matchup with Jose Aldo Jr. as a featherweight title unification match.

He also sees it as the night the 145-pound weight class slams the door on the Conor McGregor Era once and for all.

The chain of events which ended up with Aldo as the UFC featherweight champion and Holloway as the interim champ begin in Dec. 2015, when McGregor knocked out Aldo in 13 seconds to claim the championship.

Since that time, McGregor has gone on to win the lightweight championship and become the first simultaneous two-weight class champion in UFC history. After being stripped of the featherweight belt, he is now deep into negotiations for a potential boxing superfight with legendary boxer Floyd Mawyeather Jr.

Holloway, for his part, gives his respect to McGregor’s accomplishments. But he says it’s time to focus on where the featherweight division stands in the middle of 2017, not where it was in 2015.

“Conor should be proud, everyone tells, he’s the champ, blah blah blah,” Holloway told MMA Fighting during a media tour on Monday. “He should be proud. Conor was the champ, he should hold his belt up high and proud. At the end of the day, he was the 2015 champ, you know? This is two years later already.”

Besides, Holloway notes, nowhere along the way since knocking Aldo out has McGregor indicated that he considered staying atop the featherweight division a priority.

“He never, ever once talked about defending the ‘45 belt ever,” Holloway said. “Not ever. You talk about defending the ‘55 belt more than ‘45 belt, you know? It’s time to move on from this champion life already.”

Holloway, who plainly admires what McGregor has achieved in his fighting career, compared his accomplishments to those of LeBron James. While James can still wear the NBA title rings from his three championships, he still needs to play this year if he’s going to stay champion.

“We’re not going to tell LeBron, ‘hey, LeBron, you can’t show your three rings, that was three years,’” Holloway said. “No, be proud you won it, but then, you gotta play again to keep holding this title championship and [McGregor’s] not doing that, you know? And fair play to him. He’s not that type of guy. He’s not that type of guy. He’s always looking over the fence and looking for better stuff.”

The affable Hawaiian also believes that part of his appeal is that his fans know he’ll stick around and defend the title, should he defeat Aldo in Rio de Janeiro on June 3.

“My fans, they love me because they know I want to be the king and they want to see me conquer and they want to see me defend, you know?” he said. “They want me to defend my throne and keep doing it and that’s not what he is. That’s just life. That’s just life, that’s the way it goes on. I think people need to move on from that already.”