The previously unimaginable brevity of Conor McGregor’s December 2015 bout with Jose Aldo created ample opportunity for the Brazilian and his team to subsequently play down the significance of the result.
His decade long unbeaten run had been brought to a dramatic halt in just 13 seconds, his UFC featherweight title had been cruelly ripped from his grasp, but in his post-fight interview Aldo was quick to write off the events that had unfolded, claiming that what the world had just witnessed was “really not a fight”. He would retract that statement soon after but return to expressing such sentiment later.
For months and months thereafter, the wounded featherweight great would claim that McGregor had been “lucky” and, bizarrely, that the SBG Ireland product isn’t a big puncher.
“Some fighters have a lot of power, others don’t. He has soap hands,” Aldo told Brazil’s SporTV in March 2016, shortly after McGregor had been beaten by Nate Diaz at welterweight. “Of course anybody will go down with a punch to the chin. Even if a little kid hits you. He has soap hands.”
On Saturday, at UFC 212 in Rio de Janeiro, Max Holloway will look to emulate McGregor and tear the featherweight belt, which Jose regained after the UFC stripped ‘The Notorious’ Irishman last December, away from Aldo. However, aware of the drawbacks of a quick victory and the potential for excuses, Holloway doesn’t want to mimic McGregor too closely.
“I want to go in there and face the very best Jose Aldo there’s ever been,” the streaking Hawaiian told Duane Finley of FloCombat. “I don’t want that 13-second-knockout Aldo. I don’t even want the fast finish. I want the best Aldo so I can dominate him and there will be no excuses going forward. The world is going to know I’m the best featherweight on the planet after Saturday night.
“People keep saying this version and that version of Aldo, and it makes no sense to me. I just want him at his very best. That’s all I want for everyone I fight because you can guarantee you’re going to get the best of what I have to give. People love to make excuses in this sport but it should always come down to the better man winning the fight on that night.”
In all likelihood, if Holloway is to be successful on Saturday, he will have to go some rounds. Though he has a couple of quick first-round KO/TKO wins over Charles Oliveira and Akira Corassani on his UFC ledger, more of Holloway’s finishes have come later, as a result of volume, pressure, and accumulation of damage. Thus a championship rounds stoppage or decision seem the most likely methods of victory for the interim titlist.