The UFC Fights to Save the Biggest Little Man Fight in MMA History

Conor McGregor Jose Aldo Boston
Dan Flynn

Conor McGregor-Jose Aldo, perhaps the most aggressively marketed fight in UFC history, almost ended with a whimper before either featherweight could end it with a bang.

Unless anyone missed it, the hype train—actually a private jet—traveled to New York, London, Dublin, Rio de Janeiro, and points beyond to promote the fight.

“He owes me his life—and I will take it,” Conor McGregor, feeling like an unappreciated benefactor of the heretofore uncelebrated champion, told Breitbart Sports of his opponent at the Boston tour stop in March. In the wake of Aldo taunting McGregor from the front rows of Boston’s TD Garden with a picture of him as the Joker (Does that make Aldo Batman?), Breitbart Sports asked the Irishman in January about respect for opponents. “The only thing that stopped me from smacking Jose and stiffening him up in the crowd,” the 17-2 title challenger claimed, “is the money.”

Conor McGregor Beats Dennis Siver

Aldo, for his part, offers disrespect for his opponent in a lower key. He told Breitbart Sports in January, “I think there are better ranked opponents ahead of him.” When we asked the champion in March whether McGregor promotes or wages fights better, Aldo didn’t flinch: “He promotes fights well. That’s what he does.”

With the globetrotting press tour and non-stop trash talk, the fight already faced a tough task to transcend the anti-climax. But a called-off bout ranks so much higher on the let-down scale than an underwhelming one. The UFC enters the summer with the prospect of the main event of its seasonal spectacular blowing up, and not in a good way.

Jose Aldo

Aldo suffered a rib injury in training camp in the last week. The UFC’s 145-pound king announced he would visit a doctor today to determine whether he sits until at least October or fights his way through the injury to fight on July 11. A jittery UFC responded with a release on Wednesday, preempting any Thursday trip to the clinic, announcing that Aldo merely bruised rather than broke a rib.

The promotion is “all in” on UFC 189, the statement essentially said. Jose Aldo? Maybe. Sorta.

The rumor-quelling release on the card-killing injury read:

In light of recent reports regarding the status of UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo, UFC has received official medical confirmation from several doctors that Aldo did not suffer a broken rib. Following a review of the scans, it has been determined that the champion suffered a bone bruise to his rib and cartilage injury during training.

With this news, Aldo has expressed that he has every intention of facing Conor McGregor at UFC 189.

While Aldo has indicated that he will compete in Las Vegas on July 11, UFC has confirmed a contingency plan. No.1 featherweight contender Chad Mendes will face McGregor for the interim UFC featherweight championship in the event Aldo cannot compete.

UFC remains committed to delivering the featherweight and the welterweight championship fights at UFC 189 during UFC International Fight Week in Las Vegas.

Every intention? Contingency plan? In the event Aldo cannot compete?

It’s not the stuff of Conor McGregor confidence.

Conor McGregor UFC
Jose Aldo reigns as the only featherweight champion UFC fans have ever known. But UFC fans really, really came to know Aldo, and the featherweight division, only because of the charismatic Conor McGregor. What the effective but unglamorous Aldo does with his body places the 25-1 champion atop the promotion’s pound-for-pound rankings. What McGregor does with his mouth now pushes the Brazilian into the fat-wallet rankings, too. But the dancing dollar signs created by the challenger’s mouth may disappear because of a breakdown in the body that helped create the champion.

Aldo owns gold. McGregor prints green. Each possesses what the other desires. These men hate each other. These men need each other.