The world of MMA is on countdown for the highly anticipated return of the UFC to New York on November 12th, where Conor McGregor will once again headline the promotion’s marquee event, in a lightweight title bout with reigning champion Eddie Alvarez.
Since defeating José Aldo last December at UFC 194 for the featherweight title, McGregor has been the king of the UFC. Making good on his predictions of dominance, the Irishman destroyed Aldo in a 13-second flash and without a sweat broken, immediately made a vow to become a simultaneous double weight champion.
At UFC 205 in two weeks time he will get his chance. Prior to the announcement that McGregor will have his shot at history, much had been made of a possible rematch with the former featherweight champion, Aldo. Once the door was firmly shut on that possibility, Aldo took steps to leave the sport, in apparent disgust at the UFC’s rejection of his repeated claims for his shot at redemption.
Having been a champion that defended his title seven times, Aldo is still one of the promotion’s most accomplished fighters. Following his defeat to McGregor, a rematch was almost assumed. However, nearly a year later there are no signs of one coming.
Aldo’s failure to secure a rematch with the ‘Notorious’ one has become the elephant in the room for the Brazilian. While he has spent a year demanding it, nobody else has given it much thought. As McGregor went on a weight-hopping adventure all through 2016, Aldo had to be content with yet another clash with Frankie Edgar and an interim title in the absence of the champion.
Now, with the long awaited return of former women’s bantamweight queen Ronda Rousey at UFC 207 in December, the ‘Aldo rematch’ debate has been reignited once again. Rousey has been out of the spotlight and the octagon since her seismic defeat to Holly Holm at UFC 193 last November.
In her absence the bantamweight title has changed hands a further two times, first from Holm to Miesha Tate and then to Amanda Nunes. All the while, the question of Rousey’s possible return persisted.
Now, with it confirmed that the 29-year-old’s self-imposed exile will end with a massive title fight with Nunes in December, fans of José Aldo, and likely the fighter himself, will be crying foul once more over the UFC’s rejection of the former champion.
How is it Rousey, after what will be over a year away, who will return to the sport with a title fight and a chance to reclaim the belt she held with impunity since her arrival in the UFC in 2012? With a comparable record to that of Aldo in MMA’s top promotion, Rousey has been offered what Aldo has demanded for so long: a shot at the title.
Many will argue that Rousey is the bigger star to the UFC and certainly more marketable and therefore a bigger money maker. Aldo’s 13-second annihilation at the hands of Conor McGregor might also might also be working against the Brazilian. Had it been a five-round classic perhaps things would be different.
The McGregor-Aldo rivalry is a polarising affair, with most firmly entrenched on the side of one or the other. Taking a step back, however, with the knowledge of Rousey’s title shot return, should we be asking whether Aldo deserves a similar chance?
Dare it be said that despite the nature of his loss to the man from Crumlin, Aldo’s record and history in the UFC warrants a rematch with McGregor almost by default.
Following ‘clear the air’ talks with UFC president Dana White recently, Aldo has seemingly rethought his decision to quit the sport so, who knows, perhaps there will be a rematch with the Irishman on the horizon. Meanwhile, with McGregor chasing the lightweight title in two weeks time and White’s assertion that, if successful, he will have to give up one title belt, many will assume that it will be the featherweight strap.
Though this will likely put Aldo in pole position for some form of elimination series for the title, it would also mean his long demanded rematch with McGregor will be put to bed permanently. However, if he is once again wearing title gold, the question is, will Aldo even care that he didn’t have to go through his nemesis to get it?
Gary Brennan, Pundit Arena
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