Most people would agree that both Conor McGregor and Max Holloway have improved as fighters since their initial battle in 2013. But, renowned coach Firas Zahabi believes “Blessed” would take a rematch, if and when it ever materializes.
The battled way back at UFC Fight Night 26, and McGregor won the bout via decision (and despite incurring a knee injury in the contest). Since then, however, Holloway has done nothing but win, as the Hawaiian star has won 13 straight and he currently holds the 145 crown. Of course, McGregor hasn’t done too shabby either, as the Irish star has won both the featherweight and lightweight title. But, he has incurred losses to Nate Diaz and Khabib Nurmagomedov during that stretch.
“Holloway has the same type of output as Diaz, the same kind of chin as Diaz. He’s more athletic than Diaz, he has more variety in his attacks, he has more kicking, kneeing and elbowing, and his chin is just phenomenal. So I really think he would take it in the later rounds. I think the blueprint for beating McGregor is more well understood by the roster.”
“There’ll be a lot of striking of course, but there’s going to be a lot of clinching. I think that early in the striking McGregor wins, but later, it shifts all the way to Holloway,” the Tristar gym head coach explained. “He’s got better conditioning, better durability. The grappling is gonna be on Holloway’s side — the clinch work, the knees, the elbows, the tie ups. I think Holloway will start outworking and will outpace him to the point where McGregor is going to slow down.
“I like McGregor early, round one or round two, but after that, three, four, five, I think that’s going to belong to Holloway,” he said. “Even one of the first two rounds could belong to Holloway. I really think Holloway now is in his prime, and it’s going to be very very difficult to beat him.”
It’s certainly an interesting debate. Holloway has established himself as one of the greatest fighters on the planet on account of his offensive arsenal and ridiculously strong cardio. So, if McGregor couldn’t put him away early, one would think Holloway’s chances of taking the bout would rise significantly (as Zahabi noted).
The big question is, however, will we ever see a rematch? If McGregor currently held the 155 title, then a rematch would be a no-brainer. But, as it stands right now, running it back probably won’t happen anytime soon.