The UFC featherweight division received a sudden and unexpected overhaul this past weekend, when as a result of an injury to light-heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier, Conor McGregor was stripped of his featherweight title.
Scrambling to salvage the UFC 206 main event next month, UFC bosses declared Max Holloway’s clash with Anthony Pettis to be a featherweight interim-title bout, with the winner to face the newly promoted champion José Aldo.
Confused? Well so are many MMA fans.
While McGregor had yet to defend the title he took from Aldo 11 months ago, there was a growing expectation that the long awaited rematch would take place sometime in 2017. However, having secured the lightweight belt this month at UFC 205 and the prospect of a hiatus until after May, it appears the UFC brass grew impatient, or desperate, and stepped in with some heavy handed decisions.
So far ‘The Notorious’ one has remained silent on recent events, with the only indication of displeasure coming from SBG guru John Kavanagh.
In contrast to the Irishman, Aldo, who we might remember was decimated in a 13 second flash at UFC 194 by McGregor, has been about as vocal as you could be.
Since the announcement, the 30-year-old has been quick to assert that McGregor was never the champion and is instead, a ‘coward’ and a ‘pussy’, that his loss to the Dubliner was an ‘accident’, that he, Aldo, doesn’t see himself losing to anyone, in any division.
The problem with Aldo’s wild statements is that the facts clearly speak to the contrary. Not only has he been defeated by McGregor in the UFC, his loss was the fastest ever title defeat in the history of the promotion.
As this fan reminds us,
— Kyle Buttermore (@Kyle_Buttermore) November 27, 2016
Secondly and intriguingly, Aldo has never actually won a championship belt in the UFC. Though he did secure the interim featherweight strap at UFC 200 against Frankie Edgar, he has now been promoted to the status of UFC champion on two separate occasions, a fact also pointed out by a fan.
Interesting little factoid, Jose Aldo has never won a UFC championship belt (excluding interim) he's always been "promoted".
— #TheKing (@Izi_Garcia) November 27, 2016
It must be remembered however, that Aldo was the WEC featherweight king when it merged with the UFC in 2010 and did go on to defend the title seven times before his stunning loss to McGregor.
The Brazilian does therefore, have the pedigree and the credentials of a great fighter. The problem is he appears to have become selective with the facts. Statements that he was always the champion and that he can’t be beaten are beginning to make him sound a lot like Nate Diaz, post UFC 202, when the Stockton fighter suffered defeat at the hands of McGregor.
Being awarded the title of undisputed champion without having won it in the octagon will always result in accusations of being a ‘paper champion’. The least Aldo could and should do is accept his promotion with humility instead of narcissism.
It appears not to be however. Fans of McGregor will be taking a dim view of Aldo’s antics this week and will now be hoping that when the lightweight champion does return, a rematch with the new champion can finally take place and the score be settled, once and for all.
Gary Brennan, Pundit Arena