The UFC featherweight championship showdown between Jose Aldo and Conor McGregor has been almost a year in the making, but we are now only days away from finding out once and for all who the greatest featherweight fighter on the planet really is. Both men will headline UFC 194 on Saturday 12th December at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, on a night that is expected to smash PPV records and be the most lucrative in the UFC’s history.
Aldo and McGregor were originally scheduled to lock horns at UFC 189 back in July however a last minute injury to Aldo forced the long reigning champ to withdraw from the fight. The news was a real blow for the UFC and MMA fans across the globe whose anticipation was reaching fever pitch having watched both men endure an unprecedented world PR tour to promote the fight that spanned eight cities, across five countries and all over the course of 12 days. The culmination of which was the infamous press conference in Dublin, Ireland, where McGregor snatched Aldo’s belt from under his nose and held it aloft to his countrymen as his own. A stunt that required the immediate intervention of UFC President Dana White before it escalated out of control. Fast forward five months are we are once again almost under starters orders.
So what makes the Aldo vs McGregor fight so special? The answer is Conor McGregor. In just over two years in the UFC the Irishman has launched himself into the MMA stratosphere with an unparalleled personality and skill set that has truly captivated the fight world. McGregor has most definitely talked the talk ahead of this contest, now he will finally have to walk the walk and prove his doubters wrong against the number one pound for pound fighter in the world.
So who wins? Jose Aldo has amassed a professional record of 25 wins with only 1 loss and that loss was at lightweight, more than 10 years ago. The 29 year old Brazillian is the only featherweight champion the UFC has ever known and if we include his reign as WEC featherweight champion then he has had gold around his waist consecutively since June 2009. Jose is a ferocious fighter with unbelievably brutal leg kicks and his BJJ black belt means he is more than comfortable if the fight goes to the canvas. However, five of Aldo’s seven UFC fights have gone to decision leading Conor to suggest that the champion has lost the killer instinct of his early career. Still, on paper at least, it’s difficult to see past Jose Aldo.
However, across the Octagon will stand interim champion Conor McGregor.
The Irishman also boasts a very impressive professional record with 18 wins and 2 losses, 14 of those victories coming in the very first round. Conor held the Cage Warriors featherweight and lightweight world titles before moving to the UFC and has stopped five of his six opponents thus far inside the Octagon, picking up four consecutive Performance of the Night bonuses. There is no denying McGregor is dangerous unlike any opponent Aldo has ever faced before; his understanding of fighters’ strengths and weaknesses is incredible and his ability to quickly find a way to “adapt and overcome” during a fight is extraordinary. Furthermore, Conor’s style is unorthodox, powerful, lightning fast and deadly accurate. His obsession to understand how the human body moves is fascinating. Then there is his self belief, which is absolute. McGregor hypes up a fight like no other, he is a master of getting under an opponents skin and as such strikes the first blow before the contest even begins. Aldo has never had an opponent disrespect him before a fight like Conor has and it has noticeably unsettled the long reigning champion. McGregor’s relentless verbal onslaught of Aldo can only transpire to be either a stroke of genius, or the dumbest move he has ever made.
Personally, I believe McGregor has mentally broken Aldo and that is the reason I am certain the Irishman’s self fulfilling prophecy will come true on Saturday.
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