Max Holloway’s impressive win over Brian Ortega at UFC 231 last night (Sat., Dec. 8, 2018) has many fans calling him the best Featherweight ever. And with 13 UFC wins in a row — two of those TKOs of fellow FW G.O.A.T. contender Jose Aldo — one could certainly argue the case. But, Holloway still places himself behind Aldo, whose six-year reign atop the World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) 145-pound divisions saw him successfully defend the 145-pound title a whopping nine times.
Then there’s Dillon Danis, who wants to make sure you don’t forget his BFF Conor McGregor when talking about legendary featherweights.
they do Conor dirty by saying max is the best FW ever... Conor is, he beat porier, aldo, mendez AND max and more— Dillon Danis (@dillondanis) December 9, 2018
Yes, McGregor does hold a win over Holloway: a dominating 2013 decision that saw “Notorious” blank “Blessed” on the scorecards 30-27, 30-27, 30-26. On the plus side, “Blessed” holds the distinction of being the first opponent McGregor beat who survived until the final bell.
And really, how relevant is that loss in the current scheme of things? The Holloway we saw at UFC 231 is clearly light years ahead of the Holloway McGregor faced five years ago. Indeed, the Hawaiian hasn’t lost a fight since, developing into a volume striker so prodigious that he just broke the record for most significant strikes landed in UFC history (1,627). His fight with Ortega pushed him past Frankie Edgar (1,463) and former record holder Michael Bisping (1,567), who built his numbers up over the course of 11 years and 29 fights. Meanwhile, Holloway got there with 19 fights in six years ... and he’s only 27 years old!
You don’t need statistics to prove Holloway is the real deal. Anyone who has watched him over his past four title fights can see his Power Level is 10,000 ... and rising. But, is he greater than Conor McGregor? Unsurprisingly, McGregor doesn’t think so.
Here’s what the former Featherweight champ had to say about Max’s UFC 231 performance:
Thank you Chael. I was very happy to see Max return healthy and sharp in there the other night. Great win. https://t.co/O9e2lMSD8Q— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) December 9, 2018
Here’s a crazy thought: why not run it back? McGregor’s claim to the title of world’s greatest 145-er is tenuous at best because he didn’t stick around and defend the belt. But, putting the stamp on Prime Holloway would re-establish McGregor as de facto king of the Featherweights. An absentee king, for sure ... but one who just proved he’s capable of returning at any time to crush whatever “pretender” he finds on his throne.
It’d be a wild fight for sure, but who knows what kind of head space McGregor is in these days? What kind of opponent would he need to scratch that competitive itch? Holloway seems to tick more boxes than Poirier, Dana White’s recent pick for the Red Panty Night sweepstakes. Holloway is a champion, and he fights like a warrior poet. He’ll take any fight UFC offers him, be it an immediate rematch against Aldo or a last minute Lightweight fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov. He’s got swagger. He’s got charisma. He’s got Hawaii behind him (and apparently Canada, too). And he’s got McGregor’s belt. What more could a fight promoter want?