Holloway poses big challenge for champ Aldo


By GREG BEACHAM, The Associated Press

For all but 13 seconds, Jose Aldo has been the greatest featherweight fighter in mixed martial arts history.

Unfortunately for Aldo, his career can’t be discussed without prominently mentioning those 13 seconds between the opening bell and his knockout loss to Conor McGregor, who ended Aldo’s UFC title reign and 18-fight winning streak with one incredible punch.

Aldo (26-2) has fought just once since that loss in December 2015, but the Brazilian star has already regained the 145-pound title belt after McGregor moved up in weight. Aldo will attempt to defend it again today at UFC 212 in Rio de Janeiro against Oahu’s Max Holloway.

Even with a difficult fight against a well-deserving contender looming this weekend, Aldo hasn’t been able to get far from the specter of his loss to McGregor — partly because people never stop asking him about it.

“I try to see the good in it, the silver lining in everything,” Aldo said. “But the UFC tried to make this (rematch) happen, and it didn’t. The guy does not want to fight with me again. It may be the last time that people ask. He doesn’t want to have anything to do with me anymore and that’s fine. It happened. It’s in the past.”

After beating Frankie Edgar in his return fight last July to win the belt back, Aldo gets home-cage advantage when the Rio resident takes on Holloway (17-3).

During his entire fighting prime, Aldo’s work rate and skill have been too much for every opponent except McGregor. Yet he realizes the danger posed by Holloway, the interim champion from Waianae who stands 4 inches taller and presents confounding challenges.

“He’s one of the greatest to do it,” Holloway said of Aldo. “Since I was 17, I watched this guy. He stayed on top of the division. Now it’s time for a new era.”

Holloway is also well-tested after clawing his way to the top of a talent-jammed division. He has racked up 10 consecutive victories since losing a decision to McGregor in August 2013.

What’s more, Holloway is a precise, creative striker whose superior height could put him in many advantageous situations against Aldo, who might need to increase his already formidable activity. Since Aldo has been nearly impossible to take down, Holloway could spend the fight on his feet — and that probably wouldn’t be a bad thing.

Holloway also is singularly focused on MMA. While Aldo has been open about considering retirement or moving on to a boxing career in recent months, Holloway’s hunger for the sport’s biggest prizes hasn’t been satisfied.

“Everybody can get a belt,” Holloway said. “I don’t care. I want an undisputed career. I want the best damn career. I want to be the best guy ever to do this. When I’m done a long time from now, (I want) people still talking about my name as being the undisputed (best) fighter in the world, not only of the featherweights.”

Another Waianae fighter kicks off the pay-per-view main card as Yancy Medeiros (13-4) takes on Brazil’s Erick Silva (19-7) in a welterweight bout.