Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)'s featherweight champion Max Holloway has explained why he still respects Conor McGregor despite the latter under the radar of a string of legal issues.

Ahead of his UFC return, unfortunately, all the attention is toward his off-ring controversies instead of his performances in the Octagon.

He was involved in an assault on a bus full of fighters during a fightweek event for UFC 223 in 2018. McGregor was then charged with robbery for destroying a mobile phone at a Miami hotel - the case was settled out of court and the charges were dropped. The former UFC champion then pleaded guilty to assaulting a man in a Dublin pub over the man’s refusal to drink Conor’s "Proper 12" whiskey.

The worst charges have come recently as McGregor has been linked to two separate sex assault cases where the verdict is awaited. Despite this, the UFC has agreed to organize a comeback match for McGregor, who is set to return to the ring on Jan. 18 against Donald Cerrone, at UFC 246 in Las Vegas.

While there have been mixed reactions to this, McGregor has found support from one of his oldest rivals - Holloway.

"The way he talks is business, and business is business. I understand that point of business with someone. There might be a point where you cross a line where it’s not business anymore and it gets personal but he never did that. He never crossed that line. That’s what I respect about him. We do jab back and forth but it’s just business. We’re not taking any real jabs at anything really crazy. We didn’t cross that line," Holloway told MMA Fighting.

Conor McGregor
Conor McGregor of Ireland looks on in the octagon before competing against Khabib Nurmagomedov of Russia in their UFC lightweight championship bout during the UFC 229 event inside T-Mobile Arena on October 6, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Harry How/Getty Images

The UFC champion has not suffered many defeats in his career but if given an opportunity, he would love to settle scores for every loss. One particular defeat that seemed to have stuck with Holloway is his 2013 loss to McGregor. Interestingly, that was also the last time Holloway tasted a loss in the featherweight category.

While it has been six years since that match, both the fighters have gone on to achieve massive feats in the UFC.

Recollecting how McGregor had supported him when he was forced to withdraw from UFC 223's short notice bout against Khabib Nurmagomedov and from UFC 226 against Brian Ortega, he said both showed McGregor "has a heart."

Regarding to McGregor's recent legal issues, Holloway added, "He’s human just like all of us. He had some bad, unfortunate events happen. He was just doing the wrong stuff at the wrong time, and it sucks, but the dude is human. That’s just it."