Max Holloway had to know the Conor question was coming.
Never mind that he just won his 11th fight in a row, having gone down to Brazil and handed Jose Aldo just his second loss in 21 fights to unify the UFC featherweight championship on Saturday night.
The only other person to beat Aldo in the past decade, of course, is Conor McGregor, who did so with a 13-second knockout back at UFC 194. Then McGregor went up to lightweight and won that title, too, instead of defending the featherweight belt.
At the UFC 212 post-fight press conference in Rio de Janeiro, the new champ was prepared to talk about the one who walked away.
“If he wants to come back down, he can come and get it,” Holloway said. “But if not, it is what it is, you know?”
Even if McGregor never lost the featherweight belt, he also never made an attempt to defend it, Holloway pointed out, and time moves on.
“That guy was the 2015 champ,” Holloway said. “He can go running around wherever he’s at with the belt and celebrate, but guess what? You can’t take that away from him here. This is called the year 2017 right now, he’s the 2015 champ, and I’m the champ.”
Holloway said he’s more likely to take his cues from a fighter like Demetrious Johnson, who has held on to the UFC flyweight title since 2012. If Johnson is victorious in his next outing, it will mark his 11th consecutive title defense, which would set a new UFC mark.
“Demetrious Johnson, he finds his motivation of keep defending, keep defending,” Holloway said. “It takes a special human being to do that. And that’s me. I want to defend my throne. All my fans know, they love me, I want to defend this, I want to be a champ and keep defending. Come try to take over my village.”
McGregor, meanwhile, is in negotiations for a potential boxing match with Floyd Mayweather Jr. He’s got other options, as well, if that doesn’t work out, including a potential trilogy fight with Nate Diaz.
A potential McGregor-Holloway rematch — McGregor decisioned Holloway in Boston in 2013, Holloway’s most recent loss — is a more viable option that it was before Saturday night, as it could be a champion vs. champion superfight.
But Holloway understands McGregor has options, so he’s not going to go barking up that tree.
“This guy’s over here always trying to look for the bigger thing and that’s him,” Holloway said. “Good for him. I ain’t going to chase someone around. I ain’t going to talk about someone that ain’t talking about me. He gets to choose his fights. Why am I going to cry and beg him to fight me? Get the hell out of here with that sh*t. He can beg to fight me now.
“I’m coming to that point now where people’s going to start asking me to fight. I ain’t asking no one to fight. I’ve got my throne. If you want it, come see me.”