Sports entertainment star Ric Flair coined the phrase, “To be the man, you gotta beat the man.”
Using that logic, Max Holloway has already beaten “the man” in the UFC’s featherweight division twice. But despite back-to-back victories over the previous featherweight G.O.A.T, Holloway isn’t ready to assume the mantle of “best ever” at 145 pounds.
“I’ve got a lot of catching up to do. You’ve got to respect the man,” Holloway said in his post-fight interview at UFC 218. “The man’s got all the numbers. I gotta catch up on the title defenses and then maybe we can talk about it.”
Holloway became the undisputed featherweight king with a third-round stoppage of Aldo at UFC 212 this past summer. While he finished Aldo in the same round on Saturday in Detroit, “Blessed” was arguably even more dominant in the rematch. He baited the Brazilian into a brawl in round three, and capitalized as his opponent faded. A barrage of punches had Aldo reeling and forced him to shoot for a desperation takedown. Holloway stifled the attempt and finished the fight with punches and hammerfists at the 4:51 mark of round three.
“I just had to be myself. That first fight I was holding back a little bit,” Holloway said on Fox Sports 1. “This one I let myself go a little faster. It showed. He took this fight on short notice. He got tired the fist fight on a full camp. What do you think was going to happen the second time?”
Count UFC President Dana White among those impressed by Holloway’s performance.
Max Holloway came out tonight, got in his face, stayed on top of him, wore him down and ended up finishing him,” White said. “He looked like an amazing champion.”
Aldo stepped in to take the rematch on short notice after original Holloway foe Frankie Edgar withdrew from the fight due to injury. Edgar is one potential interesting future opponent for Holloway. Another is Cub Swanson, depending on how he fares against Brian Ortega at UFC Fight Night 123 next week.
The identity of his next foe doesn’t seem to matter much to Holloway, though.
“All these guys are like cupcakes to me,” he said. “I want the new flavor, but if I get something else, I don’t care. I like them all. They’re all gonna get it in due time.”