José Aldo has arguably been the most vocal fighter on the UFC roster this past week following the announcement that Conor McGregor will take on Eddie Alvarez for the lightweight title at UFC 205 on November 12.
In the days leading up to the press conference last Tuesday, the Brazilian was pretty much assured by UFC president that a featherweight title rematch was coming, potentially at the triumphant return to New York.
However, when the main card was revealed by White, there was no sign of Aldo’s name on the card. Instead, McGregor was permitted to continue his weight-hopping adventures, this time against Alvarez. Furthermore, against what was previously stated by the UFC boss, the ‘Notorious’ could hold onto his featherweight title.
This was the final straw for Aldo, who promptly demanded to be released from his UFC contract. A week on from that announcement, the former featherweight king has not changed his position. If anything, he has become more adamant about his departure.
Speaking to MMA Fighting, Aldo revealed that he has no interest in fighting for another promotion.
“It’s hard for me. If there’s something good [the UFC can do] is release me. I don’t want to fight for other promotion. I’m at the level above.
“There’s no reason why leave the first division to fight at the second division when I’m well appreciated in the first division, it would mean taking a step back. I don’t want to fight for another promotion.”
While this is certainly a legitimate assertion by the 30-year-old, it was his comments about Conor McGregor that will raise eyebrows.
Having been stalked for over a year by the rampaging Irishman, Aldo finally faced his adversary in December of 2015 at UFC 194. In what was billed as a monumental clash, McGregor’s toughest challenge yet, the fight was over before it even began.
Looking nervous and almost subservient entering the octagon, Aldo was handed his first UFC defeat after only 13 seconds in the first round. The king was dead. Long live the king.
Now, as he demands his exit from the UFC, the former champion has changed his stance on McGregor.
“Everybody knows he’s scared to fight [me]. He knows how dangerous I am for him for the fact that my last fight, everybody said that I had a safe performance and if I fight this way I don’t lose to anyone.
“I’ve seen him in press conferences saying that he would fight with Frankie Edgar but not against me. I think he’s scared.”
If the reigning featherweight champion has proven anything since his arrival at the UFC in 2013, it is that he appears that fear is one thing he does not harbour. Rather than fear the Brazilian, it seems more likely that McGregor simply doesn’t rate him anymore.
In his own words following his UFC 202 victory over Nate Diaz, McGregor, as reported by MMA Mania, had this to say about his featherweight nemesis:
“How long was I going back and forth with José? That must have been a two-year build up. He pulled out last minute. I continued to fight someone else. Then we rescheduled, two-year round-the-world deal with that boy and then he stepped in and I beat him in 13 seconds.”
“It’s hard for me to get excited about that, especially after his last performance. It was a decision, he didn’t go out and get it. He didn’t go out and get it like I wanted him to get it. So I don’t know, we’ll see.”
Right now it appears that José Aldo has a diverging view to the majority of the MMA world regarding Conor McGregor. While many might rightly say he deserves his rematch with the Irishman, to say the champions is scared to face him is simply a step too far.
If the Brazilian does indeed take his leave of the promotion, it will be a sad day for MMA. Aldo has been a huge presence in the sport for over a decade and was a worthy champion. Losing that pedigree in such an acrimonious fashion will only tarnish what has been a highlight reel career.
Or, perhaps this is just an elaborate ruse by Aldo to finally draw out the Irishman and Dana White, playing ultra-hardball to get his rematch?
What do you think?
Gary Brennan, Pundit Arena