BOSTON—A stoic Jose Aldo appeared indifferent to the antics of upcoming opponent Conor McGregor at UFC Fight Night.
“I don’t see no problem,” Aldo told Breitbart Sports through an interpreter in reaction to the Irishman’s disrespect. “He can do whatever he wants. I know I’m the champion. And I will continue being the champion.”
McGregor’s incivility intensified after obliterating Dennis Siver at UFC Fight Night on Sunday. McGregor instructed Aldo to “spit shine” the featherweight belt in preparation for him taking it and gave a “F— you” to the champion.
Aldo refused to take the bait—or even enter the cage with McGregor at TD Garden. King Conor said that the “superstitions and rituals” that would prevent a fighter from entering the octagon with his opponent before their fight “isn’t for me. It’s another word for fear. He should have come in to the f—ing octagon.”
Aldo seemed unfazed by the taunting of inebriated Irish fans as he walked through the bowels of the TD Garden on the way give interviews in the press room. “I’ll go to his house and promote it there,” a laid-back Aldo maintained. “It doesn’t matter to me.” He even conceded that his Brazilian fans may be more disrespectful than his Irish antagonists.
Aldo appears indifferent to the insults for a million reasons. The champion understands that Conor McGregor can sell a fight. Aldo has never successfully carried a pay-per view. His headlining bout with Frankie Edgar at UFC 156 drew 330,000 subscriptions. But even that modest buy rate stemmed more from his challenger’s popularity as a former lightweight champion and veteran of epic wars with Gray Maynard, B.J. Penn, and Benson Henderson than from the starpower Aldo brought. Though the 25-1 Brazilian who communicates in Portuguese faces handicaps in selling a fight to an English-speaking nation, his ability to win a fight faces no such hurdles. He hasn’t lost in almost a decade, and the gap between best and the rest in the featherweight division appears wider than in any other weight class. But Aldo needs the tart-tounged, heavy-handed McGregor for a shot at millions as much as McGregor needs Aldo for a shot at gold.
The odd couple will fulfill their wants in May at UFC 187 in Las Vegas. In explaining why the promotion scrapped plans for staging the one of the most anticipated mixed-martial-arts matches of 2015 in Ireland, UFC President Dana White cited the troublesome logistics of holding an outdoor event, permit problems, the suppressed buy rate for pay-per views held abroad, and a live-gate take below what Sin City promises despite Croke Park’s capacity quadrupling the MGM Grand Arena. The venue makes dollars so it makes sense to both fighters, even if everyone doesn’t believe it makes sense to place a guy surviving off welfare just two years ago in the main event against perhaps the most dominant champion on the UFC’s roster.
Both Aldo and featherweight Ricardo Lamas told Breitbart Sports that McGregor’s talent and accomplishments don’t merit a title shot. But Aldo reasoned that since he has already beaten those more talented and accomplished guys, the McGregor fight works for him as it does for fans.
“I think there are better ranked opponents ahead of him and he hasn’t faced the ranked opponents that I have,” Aldo explained to Breitbart Sports. “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.”