When Jose Aldo first faced Max Holloway, he was defending the featherweight title he had only recently regained in front of thousands of his countrymen in Rio de Janeiro.
And yet, it was Holloway who emerged with a third-round technical knockout victory at HSBC Arena at UFC 212 on June 3. After the defeat, Aldo coach Andre Pederneiras told MMAFighting.com that a leg injury suffered before the bout limited the Brazilian’s ability to throw kicks. In the story, the trainer also referenced an existing neck injury that prevented Aldo from taking fights on less than three months’ notice.
Aldo wasn’t supposed to be granted an immediate rematch, but when Frankie Edgar was forced to withdraw from a proposed UFC 218 clash with Holloway, the Nova Uniao star was quick to step in. Not surprisingly, he expects a different outcome this time around.
“It’s gonna be different because I’m motivated, and I’m very well trained right now,” Aldo said during a media call on Tuesday. “I’m really focused and I believe that it’s gonna be a different ending from the first fight.”
Those comments seemed to perplex Holloway, who claimed he didn’t need much more beyond the opportunity to fight to motivate him. As a result, the Hawaiian seems to be skeptical of his opponent’s mindset.
“This guy’s talking about how motivated he is for the belt,” Holloway said. “I have no idea what people talk about motivation. We were fighting in his hometown, he was a champion and for him to just say now he feels way more motivated —fighting for your country and fighting in front of your people for your belt is not enough motivation? What’s going on?
“The belt is great. You know what comes with the belt? Bigger payday, pay-per-views and a lot more stuff. A fight is a fight. I’m not trying to go out there and get my butt whooped. I’m in the hurt business. I want to get mine and I want to win. I don’t care who I fight. I can fight this guy 10 times in a row and I’ll be motivated. It doesn’t take much to get motivated.”
Holloway isn’t fazed by the thought of facing Aldo twice in approximately six months, even if the Brazilian did nothing in the interim to re-establish himself as a top contender. After Edgar’s exit, “Blessed” is just grateful to have an opponent at UFC 218, period. The only thing he questions is Aldo’s frame of mind.
“At the end of the day I’m just having a fight…The only thing weird about this whole thing, you look at this guy’s camp, he normally never takes short notice fights. He’s not really fighting this often. At the end of the day, I pulled his name, I’m ready to fight,” Holloway said. “I was ready to fight anyone. I was ready to go up [in weight] if I had to. I get to prove to everybody why I’m the best in the world.”