Last month, Jose Aldo announced that he would refuse any fight but a title fight, or a rematch with Conor McGregor. Considering McGregor held the featherweight belt formerly wrapped around Aldo’s waist, there was a good chance Aldo could land a twofer with those demands. But if he had to settle for Conor and not the belt, he’d take that fight, too … in his own words, “at any time, anywhere.”
And then Rafael Dos Anjos injured himself two weeks out from UFC 196, leaving McGregor without an opponent. The UFC reached out to a number of fighters across the 145, 155, and 170 pound division. Some fighters said yes. Some said no. Aldo said no.
“Any professional needs time to train,” Aldo told the MMA Hour. “It’s not a cockfight where I go there and put my rooster to fight. It’s a high-level sport, I’m going there to do my job. When I have time to train, it can happen at any time, anywhere. I can’t speak for others, and I don’t care what they say. I know I deserve an immediate rematch. People who say I don’t, I don’t care about them. The important is what the UFC thinks and what we think. We came to the conclusion that we’re having an immediate rematch.”
That’s an interesting interpretation of the expression “any time, anywhere.” The “any time” portion implies he’s ready to fight at any time, not at a time when he has gone through a proper training camp. That’s not any time, that’s a very specific time. Not that I expect a fighter to be willing to go at the drop of the hat, but don’t repeat that you’ll fight any time when you’ve literally just refused to fight any time.
That being said, it isn’t always that clear cut. If you believe what Frankie Edgar is saying, the UFC made a point of offering the Conor McGregor fight to guys they knew couldn’t take it. For example, Edgar had recently told them about a torn groin, which didn’t stop UFC president Dana White from telling the press Edgar “turned down the fight.”
A torn groin is a pretty legit excuse. Less legit in the eyes of many fans is Aldo’s training excuse. What Aldo loses in cardio from not getting a full camp, he gains from not having to cut down to featherweight. While there’s something to be said for tuning up your skills leading up to a fight and preparing for a specific opponent, consider this: The original Aldo vs. McGregor fight was announced on January 30, which means Aldo has had more than a year to train for McGregor as a specific opponent.
Fortunately for Aldo, he doesn’t seem to care what people think of his demands for an immediate rematch or his unwillingness to go for it when the opportunity fell into his lap. He says only the opinion of the UFC matters. But as far as that goes, it seems like they weren’t impressed with his demands for an immediate rematch in the first place. They haven’t seemed very hot on Aldo at all since he pulled out of the original July date against McGregor with a questionable injury.
Now that he’s turned down the McGregor fight (even if, as Edgar claims, the UFC never intended to give it to him), they may be even less willing to give in to his demands. The UFC isn’t exactly known for letting its fighters win power plays, unless those fighters bank mad cash for the promotion like Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey. If Aldo is serious about only accepting a title shot or a rematch with McGregor, he may be waiting for a while.