“It is what it is,” Holloway wrote Saturday on social media, shortly after the UFC announced the rematch would headline UFC 218 on Dec. 2 in Detroit.
It’s a phrase Holloway (18-3) uses often, and it fits well with the current situation. He was supposed to defend his title against Frankie Edgar at UFC 218, but Edgar withdrew last week with an injury.
Aldo (26-3) is the most dominant featherweight in the sport’s history, but his knockout loss to Holloway at UFC 212 is only five months old.
Holloway, 25, said he ultimately didn’t care whom the UFC replaced Edgar with and believes there’s still something to prove against an opponent he recently finished.
“I heard a lot of names — Cub Swanson, Ricardo Lamas, Brian Ortega, Darren Elkins, Tony Ferguson, Conor McGregor,” Holloway told ESPN. “I told them I didn’t care. They already know I don’t care. All I ask is to send me a contract.
“Our first fight, I don’t know what people are watching, but some say I was losing until I dropped him in the third. 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’s mindset is no accident. At a time in which “money fights” seem to be dominating matchmaking, the Hawaii native says his current goals are more pure, and legacy-defining.
“We’re talking about this all the time with McGregor — and money fights are great — but don’t tell me that guy is a champion,” Holloway said. “Explain to me how he’s a champion when he’s not doing champion fights.
“I’m in a champion mode right now. When it comes time for money fights, they’ll be there, but right now I’m focused on building an era.”
One angle that emerged from Holloway’s win against Aldo was the Brazilian’s puzzling lack of kicks. Aldo is known for his devastating leg kick but threw very few in their first meeting.
After the fight, Aldo’s team revealed the lack of kicks were due to a leg injury he suffered during camp. The revelation didn’t sit well with Holloway.
“That was kind of cowardly to me,” Holloway said. “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.”