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UFC Fortaleza, The Morning After: Max Holloway’s response to Aldo a sharp contrast to McGregor

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What you may have missed from last night

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UFC Fortaleza really brought the goods. Knockouts, submissions, back-and-forth wars- the best of MMA. Moraes avenged his loss with a stellar finish against Raphael Assuncao, Demian Maia turned in a classic Maia grappling seminar, Charles Oliveira extended his UFC record for submissions after getting eye poked twice and knocked down, Johnny Walker continued his light heavyweight rise with a 15-second knockout, and Thiago Alves turned back the clock with a war against Max Griffin. If you don’t have ESPN+, you can sign up here for a seven-day free trial. Last night’s fights were well worth it.

But perhaps the most impressive veteran performance was in the co-main event, where Jose Aldo dispatched rising contender Renato Moicano with extreme prejudice, rocking Moicano with a left hook early in the second frame and unleashing a wicked finishing combination, pouring on the damage until the referee stepped in for a standing TKO.

This is Aldo’s second straight stoppage win, after he dropped Jeremy Stephens with a brutal bodyshot in his last outing. Aldo has never looked deadlier. Every win he gets only makes Max Holloway seem more impressive. Holloway took Aldo’s best shots and walked through them to beat down the featherweight GOAT in back-to-back wins. He and Conor McGregor are the only fighters to beat Aldo at his best, but their responses couldn’t be more different.

Holloway was gracious and generous, calling Aldo the King of Brazil. There is no hint of self-aggrandizement here.

McGregor, who has at times taken the same approach, instead reacted to the event by referencing a bout that never happened. His self-centered response reflects a man who savors past glory, rather than one who has nothing to prove.

There is no reason McGregor couldn’t headline an event in Brazil opposite his old foe Aldo, a rematch he once promised, and Aldo would accept. Unless he actually does it, though, he is just blowing hot air, a champion who was rather than a champion who is.