Aldo's Retirement Could Be Catastrophic to a McGregor-Less Featherweight Division
There is no doubt that championship belts used to mean a lot more in the UFC.
As the titles continue to change hands and Conor McGregor once again skips the queue of top lightweight contenders to take on the champion of the division at UFC 205, the idea of earning a title shot seems far from prevalent in the modern day sport.
The Dubliner’s chance at making history is definitely the right way to mark UFC's bow at Madison Square Garden. The fanfare that comes along with McGregor guarantees a memorable backdrop, not to mention the huge pay-per-view interest he brings to the table. Fans have embraced the announcement, but there are some notable fighters who feel jilted by the headline showdown.
Currently riding a seven-fight win streak in the UFC, Khabib Nurmagomedov believes McGregor took his place. Dana White declared last week that the Russian star would be drafted in to take on Alvarez instead of the Irishman only for the promotion to announce McGregor in the main event on Monday night.
‘The Eagle’ believes he was used as bait by UFC to secure the champion versus champion fight. Nurmagomedov claimed that the New York main event was a “freak show”, and he will now face Michael Johnson on the night instead of getting his first shot at a UFC championship.
To add to the UFC’s list of unsettled fighters, Jose Aldo also claims to have been strung along with negotiations for the November 12 date as well. Initially, Aldo told Combate that he would like to be released from his contract.
When Dana White then spoke with the news outlet claiming he would talk to the interim featherweight champion, Aldo said he wanted to retire from the sport entirely, citing that he can longer trust the UFC president.
After beating Frankie Edgar at UFC 200 the Brazilian thought he had secured the next shot with McGregor and a chance to reclaim his title through the unification bout. Now, with McGregor insisting that “an army” would have to take one of the belts off him should he have his hand raised at UFC 205, Aldo has finally given up.
“Not even fight MMA, too. It has reached a limit now,” Aldo told Revista Combate after White said he would speak to the featherweight.
“I talked to ‘Dede’ a long time ago and he convinced me to continue. I went to the Frankie Edgar fight and won. I fought to win for ‘Dede’. I’m not angry or upset now, nothing. I never fought for money, I had a good career and legacy as featherweight champion.
“If (White) likes me and my family, I just hope he released me. I don’t want a fight. I want to leave as I came in. The UFC and WEC didn’t give me anything. Everything I conquered was my merit and from my team. Nobody gave me anything. I conquered everything. And I gave them a lot more than they gave me back. I just want them to release me from my contract. I’m not a whore to sell myself (for money).
“I don’t even want to fight MMA. I want to follow a career in another sport. That’s what I want.”
Ahead of his initial scheduled clash with McGregor at UFC 189, Aldo was rumored to be considering retirement, but the Nova Uniao man never backed up the claims despite his sparring partner Andy Souwer revealing that he thought he would.
McGregor has basically cleaned out the featherweight division. Yesterday at the UFC 205 press conference he suggested that he thought his future could lie in the lightweight bracket. Should McGregor leave the bracket and Aldo follow through with his retirement claims, the Irishman’s premonition of the division being stuck in the prelims could become a reality.
The Importance of Aldo
His 13-second knockout at the hands of McGregor last December certainly didn’t help his standing as the greatest featherweight in the history of the UFC, but you can’t possibly deny Aldo’s legacy when you consider his reign at the top of the bracket.
At UFC 200, Aldo proved by beating Frankie Edgar that he is still at the very top of the division, and without McGregor or Aldo at featherweight, there isn’t the same validation for the next man in line that will claim the title without him as an opponent.
Max Holloway and Edgar is the most likely fight to make without McGregor or Aldo at play, but after his one-sided loss at the hands of Aldo, a lot of people would scoff at Edgar’s involvement in the matchup. Outside of Edgar and Holloway, there is lots of young talent in the division, but it’s hard to see anyone else entering the title conversation.
Aldo has been a mainstay of the bracket since it’s inception. UFC need to make things sweet with the interim champion for the sake of the future of the bracket, because who knows what division McGregor will want a piece of following UFC 205?
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