After dismantling Jose Aldo for the second time in the past six months, Max Holloway has solidified himself as the UFC’s undisputed featherweight champion of the world.
Holloway has beaten the best of the best in his division over the past couple of years, including the likes of Cub Swanson, Ricardo Lamas, Jeremy Stephens and the aforementioned Aldo. A date with Frankie Edgar, who had to pull out of UFC 218’s main event three weeks before the fight, seems to be the most likeliest of matchups for the Waianae native.
But is that the best fight available for Holloway? Or is the possibility of a rematch with lightweight champion Conor McGregor on the cards?
“If Conor comes back, defends the title, anything is possible,” said UFC president Dana White at the UFC 218 post fight press conference.
Holloway told Hawaii News Now in an exclusive interview back in October that his dream fight would be at Aloha Stadium in a super fight with McGregor. Holloway was asked about the possibility of fighting against the Irish man again Saturday night and was more than willing to avenge his last loss inside of the Octagon.
“I’ll gladly fight him. If the Conor fight don’t happen, it’s not on my side,” Holloway said. “And I tell you guys right now. It’s not on my side, it’s on their team. Their team talking about me all the time, telling me how I’m the best guy in the world and blah, blah, blah and this and that. Right now, Conor is really talking about fighting Paulie Malignaggi in MMA. Just let that sink in … I don't know what to say to that.”
For Holloway's full post-fight press conference, here's sound from the press conference courtesy of MMAFighting.com.
Malignaggi, a former world champion boxer, has traded blows with McGregor in sparring during his preparation for McGregor’s super fight with Floyd Mayweather earlier this year, but a MMA match between McGregor and Malignaggi seems unlikely to happen.
McGregor’s head coach, John Kavanagh, said that he believes Holloway is the best 145-pound fighter in the world as recent as last year. And early Sunday morning, Holloway and McGregor exchanged jabs with each other on social media.
I miss those sunglasses. pic.twitter.com/0fa7U9dM4Y— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) December 3, 2017
Miss the sunglasses? I bet you also miss 2015 brother. Retired fighters love the past. pic.twitter.com/UWGnJG2KEe— Max Holloway (@BlessedMMA) December 3, 2017
McGregor’s next visit to the Octagon is unknown. He has a full lineup of potential fights to choose from, starting with a lightweight unification bout with Tony Ferguson, a trilogy fight with Nate Diaz, a possible bout with Khabib Nurmagomedov in Russia, a super fight with welterweight champion Tyron Woodley or even a PPV blockbuster against Georges St-Pierre.
Where does Holloway stand in McGregor’s fight lineup? It’s hard to say. But Holloway isn’t willing to wait around for McGregor. He wants to be the champion the featherweight division deserves.
“I’m the champion of my division and I got to keep everything rolling, I got to keep everything going,” he said. “I got a throne to defend I’m not gonna go on a hiatus and as long as I can contend, I’m going to fight.”
With that in mind, let’s take a quick look at the current state of the featherweight division:
Champion : Max Holloway
1. Jose Aldo
2. Frankie Edgar
3. Ricardo Lamas
4. Cub Swanson
5. Chan Sung Jung
6. Brian Ortega
7. Yair Rodriguez
8. Jeremy Stephens
9. Darren Elkins
10. Renato Moicano
11. Dennis Bermudez
12. Dooho Choi
13. Mirsad Bektic
14. Myles Jury
15. Jason Knight
Aldo is out of the running for a title shot for the foreseeable future unless Holloway loses to anyone in the next year. After two consecutive defeats to the Hawaiian, Aldo’s appeal in a trilogy fight is zero.
Edgar has the best chance to see Holloway in the Octagon next, if he can stay healthy. Holloway has already defeated Lamas and Swanson, but a rematch with Swanson seems likely to happen down the stretch if Swanson can defeat Brian Ortega next weekend. If Ortega wins, he could be a darkhosue candidate for a title shot, if not a title elimination fight.
Chan Sung Jung -- commonly known as “The Korean Zombie” -- has to get a couple of more fights under his belt before asking for a title shot. A rematch with Aldo could move him up the rankings and into the conversation.
One possible fight for Holloway that may seem of the norm could be against the interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson.
Ferguson would be the first in line for a lightweight unification fight against McGregor if the Irish man were to return, but McGregor doesn’t fight again, then what?
Holloway told Hawaii News Now in October that a fight with Ferguson is an intriguing option, even at 155 pounds. It’s hard to predict that next time Holloway fights again, but he still seems hungry to prove himself to the world that he’s the pound-for-pound best.
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