The expected UFC featherweight unification bout between champion Jose Aldo and interim titleholder Max Holloway will not take place at UFC 208 as had been planned. Why it’s not happening is a bone of contention between the two.
Aldo dropped the interim designation from his title when the UFC needed a UFC 206 headliner and decided that Conor McGregor would have to relinquish the 145-pound belt. In doing so, the promotion elevated the UFC 206 co-main event to top billing and determined that the winner of the fight between Holloway and Anthony Pettis would become the next interim featherweight champion with the expectation that the winner would then fight Aldo.
Despite the fact that McGregor still publicly disputes relinquishing the featherweight title, Holloway won the fight with Pettis in Toronto, and was expected to meet Aldo on Feb. 11 at UFC 208 in Brooklyn.
“This fight (with me and Holloway) was set (for UFC 208). We had told the UFC we wanted to fight on that date. For us, it was set. The UFC said, okay, and they asked that we not discuss it any further before UFC 206,” Aldo explained in an interview with MMAFighting.com.
“I was told the winner of the Max Holloway and Anthony Pettis fight would be my opponent in Brooklyn, and my understanding was that both Holloway and Pettis were told the same thing before their fight.”
In the fallout since the Holloway vs. Pettis fight, it has become clear that the new interim champion won’t be ready to face Aldo in Brooklyn as planned. Having been out of action since July and battling with the UFC brass, Aldo is now ready to get back in the Octagon and hasn’t been satisfied with why Holloway is unwilling to fight at UFC 208.
“After that fight, Holloway said a bunch of different things,” Aldo commented. “First, I heard he twisted his ankle and wouldn’t have time to heal. Then I heard he had a trip booked to Disney World with his kids and he wouldn’t be able to reschedule. Then I heard his gym is closed during the holidays and he wouldn’t have enough time to train. So he’s basically going around, talking a lot of trash, saying a lot of (expletive) and acting like a punk. He just talking (expletive).”
While Aldo may have a skeptical take on the situation, Holloway, as might be expected, didn’t take kindly to the champion questioning his willingness to fight.
“I don’t know what the hell he’s talking about,” Holloway told Fox Sports. “Telling me I knew before the fight — I didn’t know (expletive) before the fight. When they told me in the cage after I won that they wanted the fight Feb. 11, I thought it was 10 weeks away, so I’d take two weeks off and then have an eight-week camp to get ready for him.
“Then after everything, my adrenaline was on high and was going crazy, they got me hyped and I said what I said and then I figured out it was eight weeks, so I was like holy (expletive) that’s fast, but I said that’s okay, we can do this.”
Despite his willingness, however, Holloway realized the day after the fight with Pettis that he had taken a little more damage in the fight than he initially thought.
“The next morning, I woke my (expletive) ankle was swollen as an elephant’s leg. I told the UFC ASAP what was up and I don’t know why they didn’t announce it, but I went to the doctors as soon as possible and I was told I can’t do nothing for four to six weeks,” Holloway explained. “No contact, no nothing on my ankle. I can’t be kicking, I can’t be doing anything. I found out I re-injured an old injury in my ankle and I let them know I’m out four to six weeks.”
Aldo may not want to accept Holloway’s excuse, but the Hawaiian’s manager, Brian Butler-Au of SuckerPunch Entertainment, defended his fighter by posting a photo of the injury on Instagram and explaining it in detail.
Regardless, the fight will not take place at UFC 208.