It might be argued that among the biggest losers to come from the UFC 205 press conference was former featherweight champion José Aldo.
Overlooked again for his title tilt with Conor McGregor, UFC president Dana White instead gave the Irishman his chance at UFC history and the chance to hold two belts at the same time.
Since his disastrous defeat to McGregor at UFC 194 last December, Aldo has been a man possessed, desperate for a shot at redemption. Instead, White and the promotion have given McGregor free reign over his choice of opponents.
Two enthralling clashes with Nate Diaz has kept Aldo waiting all year but it finally appeared he would get his shot at the Notorious when only last week White publicly stated he wanted the featherweight champion to defend his title against Aldo.
However, as we all now know, White was also working to make the tantalising champion v champion clash between McGregor and lightweight supremo, Eddie Alvarez.
When that fight was announced, Aldo was done.
Within hours of UFC 205’s headline bout becoming public, Aldo dropped his bombshell that he was done with the UFC, perhaps even MMA altogether. All he now wanted was to be released from his contract and left alone.
Now, as reported by MMA Junkie, Aldo’s head coach, Andre Pederneiras, has confirmed that his famous fighter’s decision to quit is no bluff.
“In my mind, from the conversations we had, he no longer wants to fight for the UFC. I’m traveling today. Hopefully, I’ll have a meeting with the matchmakers. I believe Dana will be at this event, so we can sit down and figure out the best way to terminate the contract.”
“Yesterday we talked and he said he doesn’t want anything, not even millions of dollar proposals. In his head, he wants out.
“We’d talked about (this decision), because he’d already said, ‘If they screw me over this time, I’ll stop fighting for the UFC.’ And we believed it wouldn’t happen – also because of Dana’s statements.
“We thought, ‘If he’s going to fight in the upper division, we’ll keep the belt and fight either (Max) Holloway or (Anthony) Pettis. If he takes the rematch against us, I’ll fight him directly, all good, problem solved.”
Now, with McGregor permitted to continue with his weight-hopping adventures, while maintaining his status as featherweight champion, Aldo has chosen to leave.
“From the moment (White) lets the guy fight in the upper division, and halts the belt in the lower one – something he’d been saying for everyone to hear that wouldn’t happen – he loses all credibility. Now anything he says – ‘After this fight, he’ll have to choose.’ Before this fight he wouldn’t keep both belts, now after this one, he’ll have to pick?
“We don’t believe anything anymore, and Aldo’s decision was ‘I’m not fighting anymore. I no longer have the motivation to fight for the UFC. And to go in there without motivation – I don’t want to lose because of that. So I’d rather get out.’”
Pederneiras wouldn’t be drawn on what Aldo has planned next but did concede that his future appears to lie outside of MMA.
“The future is a secret. He wants to compete in other sports, but I can’t say now. So we’re just waiting to be freed from the contract. But it wouldn’t be at MMA.”
If this were to be the end of José Aldo in the sport of MMA, it is a disappointing conclusion to a career that saw the Brasilian amass a record of (28-2, 8-1 UFC) and rule the featherweight division for a decade.
While many will side with the bombastic showman that is Conor McGregor, MMA purists will likely see this for what it is, a true loss to their beloved sport. There is certainly more in the Aldo tank and a rematch between the division’s two greatest protagonists is a fight that most would have wanted to see.
However, going by what Pederneiras is saying, it appears the end of a great career has arrived.
Love him or hate him, without José Aldo, the sport just won’t be the same.
Gary Brennan, Pundit Arena