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Max Holloway explains why he still has so much respect for Conor McGregor

Max Holloway
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway hasn’t faced defeat very often in his career but like most fighters he’d love the opportunity to settle the score for every single loss on his resume.

One fight in particular that always seems to stick out is Holloway’s 2013 loss to Conor McGregor. Not only is that the last time he tasted defeat as a featherweight but Holloway and McGregor are two very high profile athletes competing in the UFC.

Since that fight ended six years ago, both fighters have gone on to do great things, but the rivalry between them somehow always seems to rise to the surface. McGregor loves to post photos from their first fight to taunt Holloway after handing him a unanimous decision loss in only his second UFC appearance.

In return, Holloway likes to jab back at McGregor and he’s even gone as far as traveling to Ireland to tour the Jameson Whiskey factory, which was a backhanded stab at the Irishman’s own brand of booze called Proper No. 12.

For all the trash talk shared between the fighters, Holloway still has a tremendous amount of respect for McGregor because ultimately everything they’ve said or done to this point has just been business and it’s never gotten personal.

“The way he talks is business, and business is business,” Holloway said when speaking to MMA Fighting. “I understand that point of business with someone. There might be a point where you cross a line where it’s not business anymore and it gets personal but he never did that. He never crossed that line. That’s what I respect about him.

“We do jab back and forth but it’s just business. We’re not taking any real jabs at anything real crazy. We didn’t cross that line.”

Now reigning UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov might disagree with Holloway when it comes to McGregor’s trash talk crossing boundaries between business and personal, but it’s never gone that far with the 27-year-old Hawaiian.

In fact, Holloway says that for all the back-and-forth verbal warfare shared between them over the years, McGregor is one of the fighters who has also been one of his most ardent supporters from the sidelines.

In particular, Holloway points to a tough stretch in his career where he was booted from a short-notice title fight as well as health issues that prevented him from defending his featherweight belt back in July 2018.

Through it all, Holloway says McGregor dropped whatever façade he puts on to promote his fights and just genuinely showed his concern.

“[Conor] was the first one that asked me, that tweeted how everybody was saying this stuff [about the fight being cancelled] but nobody was asking about how I was when the whole [Khabib Nurmagomedov] thing happened,” Holloway said when referencing how he was pulled from a lightweight title fight on short notice.

”When the July thing happened [with Brian Ortega] and then even walking out to the Frankie Edgar fight, he showed me support. He has a heart.”

Holloway reciprocates by not placing judgment on McGregor’s long list of screw-ups in recent years where his name has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

From his arrest for smashing the cell phone of a fan who was taking photos of him outside a posh Miami hotel to his recent court case for an unprovoked punch he served up to a bar patron in Ireland, McGregor has displayed plenty of bad behavior but it’s not Holloway’s job to kick a guy when he’s down.

“He’s human just like all of us. He had some bad, unfortunate events happen,” Holloway said. “He was just doing the wrong stuff at the wrong time and it sucks but dude is human. That’s just it.”

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