Troubled UFC star Conor McGregor has received support from the unlikeliest of sources, as former octagon rival Jose Aldo backed the Irishman to return to the top of mixed martial arts upon recovering from his horror leg break.
As McGregor embarked on one of the most phenomenal rises to the summit in any sport in the mid-2010s, he became embroiled in a bitter feud with the Brazilian.
At the time one of the UFC’s top pound-for-pound fighters and unbeaten in the elite championship, Aldo had what McGregor wanted in the featherweight title and made sure he got his shot through continuous trash talking while racking up the wins.
By the time they finally met in December 2015, some felt that ‘Mystic Mac’ had wound up Aldo to such an extent that he had already won the fight before the first buzzer, and were in a fashion proven right just 13 seconds into their box-office smash.
Falling into McGregor’s trap by going out all guns blazing, Aldo was KO’d within that time frame and paved the way for his rival to become the biggest star in MMA and later a two-division king that would earn over $100 million in a crossover boxing match with Floyd Mayweather.
Almost six years on from their row, however, Aldo seems to hold no grudges and has expressed concern for the controversial 33-year-old.
Amassing a poor record of 1-3 in his last four outings, McGregor is enshrouded in scandal following a heated dispute with Dustin Poirier and his wife, which continued after the New Orleans native’s second consecutive win against him while crumpled on the octagon floor in Las Vegas at UFC 264 recently.
“First of all, I’m upset with the injury,” Aldo revealed to Ag. Fight.
“It’s quite hard, we work with our body, we try to keep it healthy because that way we can always be working.”
Yet Aldo still tips him to make a comeback.
“I think he can [get back to fighting at a high level]. I never doubt the champions, the mind and willpower of the champions,” Aldo stated.
“He has dominating before and was the lightweight and featherweight champion. It’s all up to him. If he wants to come back at a high level, he can do it.”
Unlike others who felt that ‘Notorious’ was on the verge of being knocked out in the second straight bout running by Poirier, Aldo also found him to have been performing well until his horror leg snap.
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“The fight was going well especially because Conor forgot [his promotional] side and tried to be the fighter and win until that leg situation happened,” said Aldo.
“But, man, I think it’s up to him [to return]. If he wants to come back again, he will work hard, abdicate from certain things to get there, dedicate himself and go back to the winning path.”
As for Aldo, he continues his long road to the bantamweight title against compatriot Pedro Munhoz, in the co-main event at UFC 265 on Saturday.