Max Holloway further solidified his status as the man to beat in the featherweight division by dethroning Jose Aldo at UFC 212 early this month. As the interim champion entering the fight, “Blessed” unified the titles via third round TKO to become the third undisputed 145-pound champion in UFC history.
Holloway got off to a slow start, and it was evident in the first round when Aldo was getting the better of him in the boxing exchanges. But eventually, the Hawaii native began to get loose and comfortable, to the point that he was actually taunting Aldo a little bit.
During his appearance on Monday’s episode of The MMA Hour, Holloway revealed that he saw defeat in Aldo during those moments when he had both his hands up, seemingly goading the former champion into engaging.
“When I was putting my hand out and stuff, every time I’d put it, he would shut it down,” Holloway said (via MMA Fighting). “He would throw something, he would do something reactive. Every time in the beginning rounds when I feinted at him, he was jumping back. I [saw these] big motions from him and he was countering super fast at certain things I was doing.”
“I told myself, he’s not firing. It’s time to taunt. Let’s taunt,” Holloway continued. “Let’s see if he cracks me. I taunted him — I put my hands up for a couple of seconds. And he didn’t do nothing. I was like OK, I’m gonna do it again. And he did nothing. I was like man, this guy don’t want to fight.”
Despite the mid-fight taunting, Holloway maintained that he holds utmost respect for Aldo. But at the same time, he believes it was about time to usher in his own title reign.
“I felt the need, because people keep f—king trying to tarnish and throw this guy away. You’ve gotta understand what this guy did for all the little guys. He’s a pioneer for the small guys. When you think of the 35 and 45 class, the guys who built it, you think of Urijah Faber, you think of Dominick (Cruz) and you think Jose Aldo. Jose Aldo has been the greatest.”
“I’m gonna go out there until you want to give up. He opened the door, I just hold his hand and walked him through it and said thank you for the fight,” Holloway said. “It’s Blessed Era time.”