Conor McGregor is set to bring “The Notorious” show back to the UFC and everyone from 145-pound champ Max Holloway to young pretender Kevin Lee want his attention
And it is not difficult to see why.
McGregor is without question the hottest ticket in MMA.
The golden goose of the UFC engaged in the most lucrative combat sports event against boxing’s living legend Floyd Mayweather Jr. in August, effectively meaning that the 29-year-old is pretty much set for life, financially. With obligations still to be fulfilled to the UFC, however, McGregor is heading back to the octagon.
One man who would love to see him opposite him is UFC featherweight champion and former losing opponent, Max Holloway. “Blessed” told MMA Tonight on SiriusXM Rush that, while McGregor is highly unlikely to return to 145-pounds, the reason he would not is taht the ‘fairytale’ he enjoys would come to an abrupt end:
“There’s this fairytale,” said Holloway. “Everybody’s talking about him as the champion and this and that but his last four fights he’s 2-2 , one of them being questionable. He could have been 1-3 right now if we’re being totally honest. At the end of the day, there’s this fairytale to him and this fairytale breaks if he fights someone like me and I beat him.”
“Fairytales end. This fairytale of him being the baddest man or whatever you think he is, it ends if he fights me and things don’t go his way. You hear it with the Nate excuses: ‘Nate is three times the size of me!’ I’m pretty sure they’re almost close in height. You’re over here calling yourself a gorilla and this and that and now you’re fighting a guy that’s three [times the] size of you, it makes no sense to me. He looks three [times the] size of Floyd and Floyd wasn’t crying.”
While McGregor’s stellar career to date was accelerated due to his impeccable self-promotion and at times hilarious trash talk, many of his peers are critical of just that. Holloway, however, is ‘not a hater’ but would relish the opportunity to avenge his 2013 loss to the Irishman:
“He runs his mouth, he talks the talk, and he’s been walking the walk, so touché to him. At the end of the day, when I talk I’m not saying stuff to try and hurt your feelings. When I speak, I speak facts and if you’re getting mad, it’s because you know it’s the truth. That guy tries to push it off a little bit more in a WWE way and that’s him, that’s fair play to him. He can do it, I can’t do that. I’m pretty sure that if a lot of people could do it, we’d be doing it. You can’t and you’ve got to respect someone like that.
“He does it his way, I’m doing it my way. When I start running my mouth I start running facts, I start giving guys numbers, I start giving guys ideas of where I come from and where I work. He just kind of wants to get under your skin but you can’t be mad at the guy, that’s his personality. I’m not a hater. I respect him. He’s on his grind and he’s using it and he’s getting his, so fair play to him.”
“At the end of the day, they want their fairytale to end, they know who to call but they don’t want to. They want to run off into the sunset and that’s them.”
Another man who has been critical of McGregor and vying for a shot at the 155-pound champion is Kevin Lee. Lee, who will attempt to capture the interim lightweight championship with a victory over Tony Ferguson at UFC 216 next week, also took aim at the UFC’s rankings. According to “The Motown Phenom”, ranking ‘don’t mean sh*t’:
“I don’t see why even other fighters are putting [stock in the rankings],” Lee said. “Them rankings, they don’t matter. Y’all make the rankings. I don’t give a f*ck about them rankings. The only thing everybody above us in this division got on me is some years, is some time. That’s it. So, when you look at the rankings, they don’t really matter. You look at some of these dudes who are in the top 25, top 30, they’re tough enough, they would beat any of the guys in the top five.
“They got Nate Diaz, who’s got 10, 11 losses, in the top five. It don’t make sense. They’ve got Justin Gaethje, who’s only got one fight against — apparently beating Mike Johnson in this game is really something, because you’ve got Khabib (Nurmagomedov) up there at No. 1 and [he doesn’t] fight, you’ve got Gaethje with one fight up above me. The rankings don’t even mean sh*t. So you can say I’m No. 7. You can say whatever you want to say. I say I’m No. 1 and it’s going to be proven on Oct. 7.”
Lee, who referred to Conor McGregor as a “paper champion”, also claimed that the title currently held by the former two-weight world champion was not genuine:
“This [fight] is for the real UFC lightweight championship. McGregor’s the paper champ. The man’s only got one fight in the division. Me and Tony Ferguson both have double-digit fights in this division — the toughest division, hands down, in the UFC. October 7 will determine the real champion.”