The UFC announced that Conor McGregor and Jose Aldo will finally fight—just in time for Christmas.
The biggest little-man fight in mixed-martial arts history takes place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas rather than AT&T Stadium in Dallas, and on December 12 rather December 5, and at UFC 194 instead of UFC 189. A Jose Aldo injury waylaid their first meeting, an Andrea Bocelli concert moved the date a week later for this second meeting, and a push by the casino moved the UFC 194 venue 1,000 miles west.
“This is the biggest fight ever in the history of the featherweight division,” Dana White told Breitbart Sports this spring. The bout pits the promotion’s top pound-for-pound mixed-martial artist against its most popular fighter. “It takes two to make a big fight.”
Oh happy accident, the champion’s rib injury killing the planned 189 main event not only didn’t kill the card, which generated 800,000 buys and ranked as perhaps the best in the promotion’s history, but allowed the hype surrounding Aldo-McGregor to grow, something not thought possible just a few months ago. McGregor became more credible as an opponent, the UFC got its monster pay-per-view buys for its summer blockbuster, and Aldo won time to heal. As Shakespeare says, all’s well that ends well.
“I think there are better-ranked opponents ahead of him and he hasn’t faced the ranked opponents that I have,” Ald0 told Breitbart Sports earlier this year. “But at the same time, the opponents that are ranked above him I’ve also faced. So it would be a rematch. So this would be a fresher matchup, and I’m excited for it.”
With the mouthy striker’s dramatic comeback win over Chad Mendes at UFC 189 in July, questions about whether McGregor talked rather than fought his way into a title match appear moot. The 18-2 Irishman actually appears as the slight favorite over the Brazilian whose last loss occurred at the end of the ten-week reign of Kanye West’s “Gold Digger” atop the Billboard Hot 100. In other words, Aldo enters the fight on a decade-long winning streak. Conor McGregor had neither graduated from high school nor fought in a cage for the first time the last time Aldo lost.
Interim titlist McGregor, for his part, has ridiculed the champion throughout, ordering him to spit-shine his belt, expressing his desire to turn Aldo’s favela into a sweatshop (“they work well over there”), and accusing him of faking an injury to back out of their planned July 11 fight.
“I don’t blame the man,” the 145-pounder informed before UFC 189. “I was going to f—ing butcher him—rip him limb from limb. I wouldn’t want to face that either.”