Is Jose Aldo’s mind where it should be heading into what may be the defining fight of his storied career?
Conor McGregor’s psychological warfare has been one of the main talking points of his ongoing saga with Jose Aldo. To what degree the mind games of the brash challenger have impacted the champion’s psyche has been a matter of near constant debate for the entirety of 2015.
Whether McGregor has or hasn’t gotten into Aldo’s head is only one part of a complex psychological context heading into this fight, however.
Following Ronda Rousey’s loss to Holly Holm at UFC 193, Jose Aldo made some rather curious statements. The long-reigning UFC featherweight champion told reporters during a media scrum that he felt Rousey would not return to the octagon after the defeat, and added that were he in her position – he would retire.
“If I were her I wouldn’t come back”.
“Given the path her career has taken, making money by doing movies and stuff like that, I would lean towards that. Why would I ruin my face by being punched in the face? That’s crazy”.
To the vast majority of people, Aldo’s words won’t sound worrying. Far from it, in fact. However, a mind frame that seems completely logical to the average person can be hugely detrimental to a fighter.
In the month’s prior to these comments, there had already been a great deal of speculation about Aldo’s future. Though he is still only 29-years-old, many felt that he was sliding away from his physical prime due an accumulation of punishment over a demanding career, and that his retirement was nearing. His statement’s regarding Rousey only served to strengthen this idea, and suggested to some that the Brazilian had one foot out the door.
Speaking to the Irish Independent recently, the now retired Cathal Pendred expressed his belief that Aldo’s mind and heart were no longer in the game.
“He talks about retirement and, from my own experience, as soon as you think about it that means you’re pretty much are done. In my mind, he’s got one foot out the door already. In MMA you can’t do it half-heartedly; you’re either all in or all out”.
“The drive is gone from him”.
All this speculation, however, had been coming from sources that aren’t close to the champion. Yesterday that changed.
In an interview with MMA Plus TV, a regular training partner of Aldo’s, Andy Souwer, was asked if he thought the champion would retire following his fight with Conor McGregor at UFC 194, regardless of the outcome. The Dutch kickboxing star responded in the affirmative.
“To be honest, I think yeah, yeah. I think so”, said Souwer.“I think he is done with it, and ready. And I agree. Whatever his thinking is, or his decision, but I think it will be good for him”.
The fact that this latest indication of Aldo’s intentions and mindset is coming from someone so close to his camp certainly is worrying with such a big fight on the horizon.
Aldo is a fighter motivated by legacy, and has always expressed a desire to go out on top, so perhaps that will inspire him on to another great performance, even if he does have one eye on the exit.
But if things get really hard on Saturday night, will that be enough to push him through? Or will the hunger of McGregor wear down what remains of Aldo’s championship defiance?