Tuesday March 1, 2016— Toward the end of January, Jose Aldo took to Instagram to express a powerful message: he’d be willing to engage in a rematch with Conor McGregor anytime, any place. Aldo said he wouldn’t take another fight, implying he was leaving his schedule open for the rematch, and even said it didn’t have to be a title bout for him to face McGregor again. Fans of fighting, be it boxing or MMA, know that this kind of talk doesn’t always lead to immediate results. A lot of the time it’s just bluster, and when it does lead to a match-up, it can generally take some time. But in this case, Aldo’s talk came so soon after his December disappointment against McGregor that it seemed worthy of attention.
To recap, these two met just a few months ago at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas for UFC 194. It was the UFC Featherweight Championship bout, and according to Betfair News, Aldo was the favorite with the fans, even though the odds were very slightly against him. Evidently, 66 percent of customers at the popular betting site backed Aldo to win, which may partially explain the popular fighter’s confidence heading into the match-up. It was a shock to the UFC community, then, when McGregor ended the fight by knocking Aldo unconscious after just 13 seconds. Technically it was no upset, but it certainly wrapped up more quickly than anyone anticipated.
After a disappointment like that, it’s understandable that Aldo would be eager to get back in the ring with his newest rival. However, news has recently surfaced that Aldo’s bark may be greater than his bite in this particular case. Fox Sports posted comments from Aldo’s coach indicating that the fighter was offered the very rematch he’s been calling for at UFC 196, but that they turned it down. The full story is that Rafael dos Anjos has pulled out of a March 5 title defense against McGregor, and the UFC is looking for a replacement. It’s definitely short notice, and Aldo’s coach explained that his fighter was not in shape for a fight so soon. Really, that much is understandable.
But even if his reason for turning down a rematch makes perfect sense, Aldo will now face questions of cowardice, whether or not that’s fair. Fighters pretty much always talk tough, and to some extent even the most serious fans can dismiss the talk as inevitable noise. But when a fighter calls for a rematch anytime or any place, it’s best for that fighter’s reputation if he means it. Aldo may not truly be running away from another bout with McGregor. Perhaps if the offer had been for an April fight, the conversation would be different, but there’s no question that Aldo’s chatter has come back to haunt him. He got what he asked for and couldn’t face it.
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