Originally, UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway was expected to battle long-time contender Frankie Edgar in the main event of UFC 218 this December 2. Unfortunately, Edgar was forced out of this fight with an injury, which jumpstarted an immediate search for a replacement opponent.
After a brief search and plenty of guesses as to who Holloway would fight, the UFC ultimately called on Jose Aldo – the very man Holloway defeated to win the undisputed featherweight crown back in June.
Speaking to ESPN this week, Holloway ran through the chaotic process that led to his being scheduled for a surprise rematch with the man he just beat.
“I heard a lot of names — Cub Swanson, Ricardo Lamas, Brian Ortega, Darren Elkins, Tony Ferguson, Conor McGregor,” Holloway said of the search for a new opponent. “I told [the UFC] I didn’t care. They already know I don’t care. All I ask is to send me a contract.”
While Holloway is understandably disappointed with Edgar’s withdrawal, he’s excited for the chance to silence any doubters with questions about his first win over Aldo.
“Our first fight, I don’t know what people are watching, but some say I was losing until I dropped him in the third,” he said. “Those must be some hardcore Aldo fans. But he’s been one of the best guys for years, so to show I’m the best in back-to-back fights, sign me up.”
Holloway also relishes the chance to prove that Aldo’s rumored injury (and resulting lack of leg kicks) wasn’t the catalyst for his June win.
“That was kind of cowardly to me,” Holloway said of the injury talk from Aldo’s camp. “To say something like that and take away from someone’s win. I’ve never taken away from someone’s win. I just thought it was silly.
“Hopefully he doesn’t have an injury this time, and hopefully he kicks more. Kicks don’t — the guy was dead tired in the second round. There’s a feeling in there when a guy is falling off.
“His mouth was open. I was able to taunt him. I Stockton-slapped him, and from then on I knew, ‘Wow, this guy is not really moving anymore.’ That was the time to turn up the heat, and that’s what we did.”
Who do you think wins this Max Holloway vs. Jose Aldo rematch?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 13/11/2017.