Jose Aldo has faced virtually every featherweight contender in the UFC, but no one has gotten under his skin the way that Conor McGregor has over the past year.
From McGregor leaping over the Octagon fence in January and getting directly in Aldo’s face, to a media world tour in which the two fighters had to be separated several times by security as well as UFC president Dana White, to keep them from putting on a fight in the middle of a stage or television studio.
When Aldo was forced to pull out of their originally scheduled fight in July due to a rib injury he was gutted, but the situation only got worse thanks to McGregor telling anyone who would listen that the featherweight champion ran rather than actually got hurt.
Article continues below ...
McGregor claims he even told Aldo that he wouldn’t hit him to the body if he showed up in Las Vegas to make the fight happen. Aldo obviously has a different version of that story.
"He’s not going to be able to fight me in there anyway. He’s not going to be able to hit me in the body anyway, so that wasn’t the issue," Aldo said recently. "The issue for me was mainly the weight cut with the ribs. Being there and winning the fight I’m going to do regardless, so the issue was really something else and not him hitting me in the body."
Aldo doesn’t mince any words when it comes to the location where he’s going to hit McGregor come Saturday night because he promises it’s going to be a knockout shot regardless of the landing spot.
To me he’s just the same. I’ve fought a lot of the top fighters out there, and to me he’s really just another opponent that I have to go in there and beat.
— Jose Aldo
"Don’t worry, wherever I hit, he’s going to go to sleep," Aldo said.
As much as Aldo wants to knock out McGregor so hard he’ll never have to hear his name again, he says he’s treating this matchup like any other fight.
Aldo has defended his UFC featherweight title on seven occasions and each one has been a little bit harder than the last, so he likes to think every opponent is really his toughest challenge. This time it’s McGregor, but that’s not because Aldo believes he’s that good; he’s just the next guy in line.
"Every fight the biggest fight of my career, the next one is always the biggest one, so I’m looking at this one as the biggest fight in my career because it’s the next one," Aldo said. "To me he’s just the same. I’ve fought a lot of the top fighters out there, and to me he’s really just another opponent that I have to go in there and beat."
Chances are when Aldo and McGregor come face to face this week, they won’t be sharing many niceties on the dais, but the incumbent champion is trying to put a positive spin on his typically vitriolic responses towards the Irishman.
The way Aldo looks at this fight, McGregor’s constant talk and promotion are just hyping up the card that much more, so when the pay-per-view dollars come rolling in, the Brazilian will cash out like he just hit the jackpot on a Las Vegas slot machine.
"I mean, the guy’s working for me. He’s basically making me money so how could I be angry with him?" Aldo said. "I think he did very good for the weight class so I’m happy with that.
"He’s still the joker to me. He’s doing good work, he’s bringing me money, but he’s still the same to me."
As much as Aldo dislikes McGregor and his antics, he will fight him just like every other contender who has attempted to take his belt over the past four years. As a matter of fact, Aldo says when the fight is over and he still is reigning as the undisputed featherweight champion, he’ll even shake McGregor’s hand and put the rivalry behind them.
At least for one moment, anyways.
"I see no problem in that," Aldo said about shaking McGregor’s hand after the fight. "I’m really thinking of the fight right now, but after the fight’s over I see no problem in shaking his hand. You know, we’re going to have to see how the fight plays out, but I’m going to be there working as well as he’s going to be in there working, and everyone else is, so I don’t see a problem with that."