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Jose Aldo 'knew' Conor McGregor's belt would be stripped; plans title defense and then rematch
Newly minted UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo said it was inevitable Conor McGregor would have to give up one of his titles.
Now that two-division champ McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) has “relinquished” his featherweight belt, Aldo (26-2 MMA, 8-1 UFC), who was subsequently promoted from interim titleholder to primary champion, plans to defend the title in February or March, presumably against the winner of next month’s interim title bout between Max Holloway (16-3 MMA, 12-3) and Anthony Pettis (19-5 MMA, 6-4 UFC) at UFC 206.
After that, Aldo is targeting a rematch with McGregor.
Speaking to SporTV channel’s Planeta, Aldo said, “It was a fact that this was going to happen. We knew (McGregor) was going to relinquish the belt – obviously, either mine or the lightweight one.
“I think both are very tough fights for him, either at lightweight with Khabib (Nurmagomedov) or a rematch with me. So he chose to let go of mine. It’s no problem. Of course, first I want to do a (title) defense and then, yes, I will want to pursue a fight with (McGregor).”
The UFC announced this past Saturday that McGregor had given up his featherweight title after claiming the lightweight belt in a superfight against Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205, which prompted Aldo to threaten retirement.
UFC President Dana White previously indicated McGregor could not hold two UFC titles at once and would have to give one up. McGregor said he wouldn’t abide.
McGregor, the No. 1 fighter in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA featherweight and lightweight rankings, has yet to comment publicly on his title situation. Aldo, though, seems to have turned a corner with the UFC after claiming he didn’t want to fight for the promotion.
“I think I’ve always been the champion, and I will always be the champion,” he said. “As long as I’m at featherweight, no matter what happens, I’ll keep being the champion. So this, for me, was something that was already certain. The minute I lost, I knew, the next day, the belt would be mine again. It was just a matter of time. Of course, (it was) not the way I wanted, but I’m happy because I know I’m the champion.”
Until this past weekend, that wasn’t the case. Aldo held the interim title after beating ex-champ Frankie Edgar at UFC 200, and awaited a rematch with McGregor, who knocked him out in 13 seconds at UFC 194.
But after McGregor knocked out Alvarez at UFC 205, there was little indication from the brief two-division champ that a second Aldo fight was on the horizon. Impending fatherhood was first on his list.
Now promoted to undisputed champ, Aldo indicated he’s back in the driver’s seat, one month after he seemed to soften his stance toward the UFC.
“Since Dana said that we can choose who we want to fight, I want to fight (McGregor). “That’s what’s going to happen.”
He echoed a timeline previously given by his coach for a return to the cage. With a belt around his waist, retirement is no longer on his mind.
“I said that if one day I left the UFC, (because) I wanted to try other sports, I said if I returned to MMA I wanted it to be to the UFC, because I’m the best in the world and the best in the world is the UFC,” Aldo said. “So I had to be there, always motivated. That’s my life. There’s no way I can escape and want something else, so I’m very motivated. I have a few fights left on my contract, but I also want to test myself in other things because I think I can also do well (in them).
“I’d been training, even with everything that’s been happening. I’ve been training and helping out my friends here (at Nova Uniao). And now we’re already making the arrangements to fight in the future. I think maybe in February or March we’ll be fighting hopefully. I don’t want to wait too long because it’s been a while since my last fight. I don’t want to go too long without fighting.”