Caption: Max Holloway is in confident mood ahead of his featherweight title defense against Alexander Volkanovski
Max Holloway snubs potential rematch with Conor McGregor
It’s been six years since Conor McGregor defeated MMA rival Max Holloway on his way to securing the featherweight and lightweight world title belts. While McGregor was working his way up the weight ranks – and dabbling in the boxing arena – Holloway successfully regrouped to go on a 13-fight winning streak, which also saw him taking the featherweight world title back in 2017.
Although Holloway fell to Dustin Poirier when fighting at lightweight earlier this year, he retained his 145lb belt a few months later, against Frankie Edgar. This win has since sparked the rumor mill to discuss the possibility of McGregor and Holloway locking horns again. Many MMA reporters have asked Holloway about the prospect ahead of his upcoming title defence against Alexander Volkanovski before Christmas. The 27-year-old American has been very lukewarm in his eagerness for a rematch with McGregor.
“Unhealthy” McGregor doesn’t interest Holloway at present
Hawaii-born Holloway was very respectful in his response to questions regarding a potential bout with the Irishman, admitting that he “ruled the world, not just UFC” during the back end of 2015 and most of 2016. Holloway cited McGregor’s inspirational ability to “reach for the stars” and “make it happen”, which saw the world take him to their hearts. Unfortunately for McGregor and the MMA world, he has disgraced himself on multiple occasions in recent years and has had a recent court appearance in Dublin to contend with.
Holloway believes that in recent times, McGregor has lost focus and is in an “unhealthy” place at present. While he admits that he would be very “interested in a pay day” bout against McGregor, he has no interest in a duel with the Irishman while he is unfocused and not at his best. Even McGregor’s most loyal fans across Ireland and beyond would agree with Holloway that an unfit and demotivated McGregor would not bring anything to the sport of MMA. Holloway insists that if McGregor can go away and “figure things out” it would become an appealing match-up, giving the Honolulu-born ace a chance to right the wrongs of that 2013 defeat in his prime.
Nurmagomedov also unwilling to grant McGregor a rematch
Caption: Khabib Nurmagomedov is in relaxed mood while holding the longest active undefeated streak in MMA
McGregor has also been spurned by his long-time rival, Khabib Nurmagomedov, with the reigning UFC lightweight champion refusing to give McGregor a rematch. The 31-year-old Russian has instead opted to defend his title against Tony Ferguson early next year. Khabib’s father, Abdulmanap said that Khabib’s intentions were solely on finishing his “business” with Ferguson before considering a tie-up with McGregor once more. Nurmagomedov senior thinks the bout with Ferguson will be an evenly contested battle, given that both fighters have gone on impressive 12-fight winning streaks in their UFC careers.
It appears that the Nurmagomedov vs. Ferguson fight will be staged at New York’s Madison Square Garden in March or April, although an official date is yet to be announced. Should Nurmagomedov come through his bout with Ferguson, McGregor would be the next natural fighter in line, providing his head is in the right frame of mind. McGregor tweeted to his fans last month that he was happy for a rematch to be staged in Nurmagomedov’s home country, with Moscow mooted as a potential location.
Most leading sportsbooks have priced Nurmagomedov as an outright 2/7 favorite to defeat McGregor in any potential rematch. Those who feel McGregor could spark a 3/1 upset should consider signing up to a new sportsbook for a free additional wager to enhance their potential winnings. However, 3/1 looks quite short for someone that hasn’t won an MMA bout since September 2016 and has been in all kinds of scrapes away from the sport since then.
It says it all when one of the most controversial boxing icons, Mike Tyson, recently decided to offer McGregor some man-to-man advice on dealing with fame and fortune. Tyson, who may have had flashbacks to some of his own scandals in the early 1990's when reading about McGregor’s indiscretions, took the time to offer some words of wisdom on Ariel Helwani’s MMA show.
Tyson admitted that the volume of money available in boxing and MMA in the 21st century is undoubtedly to blame for some of the personal issues facing the likes of McGregor. He said that people like him and McGregor “don’t know how to handle this stuff [money]”. Tyson warned that fighters and their families have “never had this”, which brings with it a lot of stresses and strains. Tyson recalls buying gifts for people “that don’t deserve gifts”, just because he didn’t know “what to do” with his fortune. McGregor needs to repent his indiscretions out of the ring and try hard to recapture the hunger that made him one of the most eye-catching MMA icons in the history of the sport.
Attentions turn to Holloway’s bout with Volkanovski
Holloway will be the co-main fight at UFC 245 to be hosted at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on December 14. It will certainly be a fascinating match-up, given that Volkanovski offers more experience and a better reach than his American opponent. However, Holloway’s 12cm height advantage could prove decisive too.
Another statistic that could strike fear into Holloway’s team is that Volkanovski has a perfect 7-0 record since joining the UFC. The Australian has won 17 successive MMA fights, which date back as far as December 2013. He has overcome the likes of former champion Jose Aldo, as well as well-respected challenger Chad Mendes, so he will certainly be no pushover for Holloway.
So confident is Volkanovski in his abilities that he has even mooted a rematch with Holloway in the event he beats him in December. Although Volkanovski accepts that Holloway has been a “great champion”, he wants a chance to prove that he is the “best featherweight in the world”. The opening odds from the leading sportsbooks have Holloway a strong favorite going into the bout, but Volkanovski has turned the odds upside down in his last two fights and will be desperate to make it a hat-trick by claiming the featherweight title from the Hawaiian.