Conor McGregor might be the talk of the featherweight division, but champion Jose Aldo isn’t sure why his name is even coming up right now, considering Aldo’s got a title fight with the No. 1 contender in the division happening at UFC 179.
UFC president Dana White has stated that if Aldo beats Chad Mendes in Brazil in two weeks, McGregor likely will be the next man in line for the belt. Aldo is aware of the news, but believes it’s not fair to him or Mendes that McGregor’s name keeps getting mentioned while there’s still a title fight on the horizon.
"I’m really focused on Chad Mendes right now and I do think it’s a little bit disrespectful," Aldo told FOX Sports. "This fight hasn’t even happened. There’s nothing set yet. I do need to keep my feet on the ground and keep focused on Chad Mendes and not think of anyone else."
The champion would much rather go about his business and stay focused on the task at hand, but it’s not easy with McGregor making so much noise leading up to the pay-per-view card in Brazil.
Just two weeks ago, McGregor announced his presence to the top five of the division with a rousing performance, knocking out Dustin Poirier in the first round at UFC 178.
I’m really focused on Chad Mendes right now and I do think it’s a little bit disrespectful. This fight hasn’t even happened. There’s nothing set yet.
— Jose Aldo on Conor McGregor
Following the fight, McGregor gave his opinion on Aldo and Mendes and how he would fare against both men should he get the next title shot.
"I believe I will dismantle both of them," McGregor said at the UFC 178 post-fight press conference. "Chad is a 5-foot-6, overblown — he should be a 125er, but he’s gone past that limit now. Now he’s just a little small bodybuilder stuck in the 145-pound division, and he gets tired quick. He’s 5-foot-6 with a 65-inch reach. I have an eight-inch reach advantage on him. I tower over him. I would maul Chad.
"Jose is in this situation where he has got to a stage where he’s happy with his level. I feel he’s in that pattern of deterioration. Again, another easy win."
As much as Aldo would love to pretend McGregor isn’t even a factor, the long-reigning featherweight champion has a hard time ignoring him. It’s not easy when people are coming up to Aldo on the street, begging him to put the Irish bad boy in his place inside the Octagon.
"With fighters that are very outspoken and very loud like that, obviously you’re going to hear about it," Aldo said. "I’m not out online looking for things or researching him in any way, but when people come up to me and say ‘Hey, go beat up this guy’ or whatever … So the news does arrive; I do hear about it."
McGregor is scheduled to be at UFC 179 in Brazil to sit cage side and observe the title fight between Aldo and Mendes.
It’s a safe bet he’ll have plenty to say about the fight before, during and after it happens, so Aldo certainly will hear more from the brash Irishman. No matter how much McGregor talks and no matter how loud he speaks, Aldo just has to remind him and anyone else listening that McGregor isn’t in the title fight.
"He’s not in this competition and it makes no difference," Aldo said.
Aldo will close out his training camp in the next two weeks and then get ready for the real No. 1 contender in the division, Mendes, whom he hopes to defeat for the second time while defending his featherweight belt for the seventh time in the UFC.