There you go that's the OG champ champ the world wants. I do have it. White belt bum 21 year old Max gave it to me to return to you in Dublin. Glad you found your confidence again in Boston. You can find your ACL again in Vegas in July— Max Holloway (@BlessedMMA) March 17, 2019
As the Hawaiian evolved into one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world, both gradually started to mention each other more and more. With that said, let’s take a look at the long history of the pair’s interactions with each other since their first bout.
While Holloway became the first fighter to take McGregor the distance, the major takeaway was how the latter went on to win the fight despite suffering a torn ACL in the second round.
Following his win over Clay Collard in Aug. 2014, “Blessed” spoke of how he wanted to face McGregor once again as well as how nobody notably mentions his own injury in their first fight. “The McGregor fight, I got hurt in the first 30 seconds,” Holloway told MMA Junkie. “He complains about hurting his knee at the end of the second round (but) I was hurt in the first 30 seconds of the fight. I sprained my ankle in the first round.”
“I’d love to fight him again. I’m not saying without the injury it would’ve changed the outcome of the fight, but the fight would’ve been way more interesting than it was.”
Things Get Testy
McGregor took his first real potshot at Holloway in April 2015 when he tweeted about the featherweight division following the latter’s win over Cub Swanson.
Congrats to my kids in the McGregor division last night. Daddy is pleased. pic.twitter.com/2Mio4GuinB— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) April 19, 2015
Holloway did not take kindly to that tweet, deeming it “super disrespectful” and claiming he would “get his rematch” eventually. He also replied to McGregor in a now-deleted tweet telling the Irishman to tag him next time.
Since then, Holloway would mention or at least be asked about McGregor a lot more. In Aug. 2015, though he admitted it would be hard not to call McGregor the real deal, he claimed he was confident of beating him in a rematch.
A couple of months later in November, he predicted they would both fight a couple of times in the future. In December, he even praised McGregor for backing up all his trash talk. However, a few days later, he claimed McGregor was faking his injury in their first fight.
“His camp and him or whatever, or his fans just think that … his whole ACL was blown out when he fought me, which just blew my mind,” Holloway told Submission Radio. “Because you see these humongous athletes, NFL players blow their ACL, and they’re crying like little kids and they can’t even step on it. And this guy was fighting on it for five minutes? It’s ridiculous.”
Stalling the Division
McGregor opened 2016 as the new featherweight champion following his knockout win over Jose Aldo the previous month. Holloway, meanwhile, was on an eight-fight win streak at the time but did not expect to face McGregor soon as he (correctly) predicted in April 2016 that the “Notorious” would not fight at 145 pounds again.
With McGregor targeting lightweight gold while holding up the featherweight division as the champion, the Hawaiian surprisingly didn’t have a problem with it either, just as long as when he gets in that position, he could do the same.
However, “Blessed” eventually started to grow more frustrated.
"There’s only two guys in our division that Conor beat that’s still ranked, myself and Aldo," he told MMA Fighting in Sept. 2016. "Who the hell else did he beat? I don’t even know who he beat. I only know the two ranked guys were me and Aldo. I don’t take that away from Conor, that he beat Chad Mendes on short notice. Chad took that fight knowing he had a chance to beat Conor, so that’s Chad’s fault he took that fight. My last four guys I beat have all been ranked."
McGregor, who won the lightweight title in November, would eventually be stripped of the featherweight title with Aldo being reinstated as champion. Holloway, meanwhile, would go on to defeat Anthony Pettis at UFC 206 in Dec. 2016 to become the interim featherweight champion.
McGregor Becomes More Talkative
2017 was the year McGregor really started mentioning Holloway’s name more frequently. Holloway shocked the world when he defeated Aldo at UFC 212 in June to become the unified featherweight champion. Afterward, he not only called McGregor the “2015 champ” but also challenged him to come back down to featherweight if he wanted his title back.
McGregor would go on to compete in the much-talked-about boxing fight with Floyd Mayweather in August. Although it was a losing effort, Holloway took a pause from the trash talk and showed support to a fellow mixed martial artist.
Max Holloway (@BlessedMMA) August 27, 2017
However, it was right back to it afterward as he claimed in September that McGregor’s fairytale would end if they met again. McGregor didn’t respond to the 27-year-old initially, but he did the following month with some backhanded praise.
“If he wants to come up, then maybe [to a rematch]. We’ll figure it out,” said McGregor. “That’s another option, but it’s a low down the totem pole option.”
Holloway saw through McGregor’s comments but agreed in October that a rematch would likely take place at 155 pounds. “Blessed” would later defeat Aldo for the second time in December, and that’s when things really started to heat up.
I miss those sunglasses. pic.twitter.com/0fa7U9dM4Y— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) December 3, 2017
Miss the sunglasses? I bet you also miss 2015 brother. Retired fighters love the past. pic.twitter.com/UWGnJG2KEe— Max Holloway (@BlessedMMA) December 3, 2017
“You know, it’s funny. The guy’s funny, I couldn’t help but laugh. I’m on his mind apparently,” Holloway told The MMA Hour afterward.
More Hostile Interactions
Holloway was scheduled to defend his featherweight title against Frankie Edgar at UFC 222 in March 2018 but had to withdraw in February due to injury. This led to a new potshot from McGregor referencing their first fight.
When there is no referee to save you. https://t.co/5XXA7G5uCq— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) February 3, 2018
When there is pic.twitter.com/b4H3CC85B9— Max Holloway (@BlessedMMA) February 4, 2018
McGregor would then shockingly claim he was close to replacing Holloway on short notice and fighting Edgar for a 165-pound title and received shade from the featherweight king as a result.
One more update @arielhelwani. After I was pulled from 222, I offered to amputate my leg and fight for a 115lb belt against DJ. It was very very close. Plans were in place. But I was told there wasn’t enough time.— Max Holloway (@BlessedMMA) February 27, 2018
The DEFENDING Champ (no need TM what he can't claim) https://t.co/iFCB2NcHFA
Edgar eventually faced Brian Ortega and suffered the first knockout of his career. Holloway praised him for risking his title shot, which led to another back-and-forth with McGregor.
Kid, you bounced. Leave it.— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) March 5, 2018
You went from King of Ireland to King of "chicken"? Looking forward to the two strips meal coming April 7.— Max Holloway (@BlessedMMA) March 5, 2018
PS Shout out to the real fighting Irish. The ones who value whats in heart before whats on waist. Hawaii respects you and welcomes you with open arms https://t.co/kqyiAw3PDY
Despite repeatedly going at each other’s throats now, Holloway showed support for McGregor after the infamous UFC 223 bus incident. He first claimed in April that he didn’t think the Irishman intentionally wanted to attack the bus and then wished him well with his legal proceedings in June.
When Holloway had to withdraw from UFC 226 in July due to concussion-like symptoms, McGregor returned the favor.
Thank you champ champ. One of the best minds in this game said we win or learn. This is learning for me. Hope to see you back brother https://t.co/qdj9IbZDPg— Max Holloway (@BlessedMMA) July 6, 2018
Here’s my take on last night. When I was in the ER this summer and docs said not weight cut not concussion and they can’t figure it out, my family crying, Khabib and Conor could’ve stepped on my neck. Instead they both stepped up and showed respect.— Max Holloway (@BlessedMMA) October 8, 2018
In December, Holloway would also defend McGregor’s performance against Khabib Nurmagomedov, claiming he didn’t do as badly as others were saying. The Hawaiian would finally return to action a few days later when he outclassed Ortega to retain his title.
McGregor was happy to see Holloway return, but also took time to reflect on his own achievements.
Thank you Chael. I was very happy to see Max return healthy and sharp in there the other night. Great win. https://t.co/O9e2lMSD8Q— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) December 9, 2018
What’s that make me? https://t.co/laJK3COquQ— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) December 9, 2018
Holloway would later throw massive shade at McGregor's Proper 12 whiskey by visiting rival Jameson's distillery in Ireland in January.
238 years of innovation, hard work, and unmatched quality. Not a watered down trend. A true pillar of Ireland, supporting the hard working families in Dublin for generations. Thank you @jamesonwhiskey for the hospitality. The number one Irish whiskey in the world #sinemetu pic.twitter.com/9fVzu9Lvic— Max Holloway (@BlessedMMA) January 26, 2019
Could the rematch happen? Holloway will first be facing Dustin Poirier for the interim lightweight title at UFC 236 in April. But given that McGregor seemingly wants to return in July, and Holloway mentioned that month as well, we could very well see it happen this year.