Jose Aldo, Conor McGregor finally collide in cage at UFC 194
Greg Beacham (Associated Press) - December 10, 2015 - 4:00pm

LAS VEGAS — Jose Aldo is the only featherweight champion in UFC history. The brilliant Brazilian star is widely considered the pound-for-pound best mixed martial artist in the world. He hasn't lost a fight in 10 years.

And yet in the casinos of Las Vegas, Aldo is a betting underdog in the main event of UFC 194 on Saturday night.

Behold the power of Conor McGregor, the loquacious Irish challenger who has persuaded the world he can end 2015 by dethroning a king.

"He is already beaten," McGregor said. "I look in his eyes, and I see someone who knows his era is over. It's a new era. It's my era. I almost want to comfort him. I want to say, 'Don't worry. It will all be over soon.'"

A year of promotional hype and fan anticipation culminates at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in the main event of the biggest show on a huge three-day weekend of UFC fights.

Aldo (25-1) and McGregor (18-2) have traded innumerable insults and menacing glares during the buildup to this injury-delayed showdown. It's finally time to find out whether McGregor can back up some of the most delicious bravado in recent sports history.

"I get in there, and I put on a show," McGregor said. "I come to fight, and this fight will be a performance. I'm not just going to beat Jose. I'm going to embarrass Jose in there. I don't need to gather any more intel, any more research. It's done. He has already lost."

While McGregor's personality is both magnetic and divisive, Aldo is no wallflower himself, as evidenced by his testy relations with the UFC for the past few years. He has reacted with amusement and anger to McGregor's provocations while adding his own jabs, albeit without the inimitable showmanship of McGregor's rants.

"I'm going to hit him, and he's going to sleep," Aldo said through a translator. "I don't really care how I win. I care about winning. Really the only difference is I always beat Americans, and this time I'm going to beat an Irishman."

Aldo could say little when he was injured in training shortly before he was originally scheduled to meet McGregor in July, scrapping an elaborate promotional campaign and providing more fodder for his challenger. McGregor took on the highly regarded Chad Mendes instead, scoring a second-round stoppage and earning an interim belt.

That honor didn't satisfy McGregor, whose plans for world domination aren't confined to one weight class or even one endeavor ("Hollywood is screaming for me," he said).

McGregor has attracted global attention to the grateful UFC, which has heavily showcased his magnetism and verbosity. He has become a fan favorite — particularly among his countrymen, who filled Vegas' casinos with songs and revelry before and after his victory over Mendes.

"I think it's going to be an electric atmosphere," McGregor said. "I feel the Brazilians will come out to support. They're going to be swallowed by the Irish, though. It's going to be a green Christmas in Las Vegas, that's for sure."

McGregor anticipates moving up to lightweight and becoming a two-division undisputed champion next year. But first, he must handle Aldo's mix of solid technical striking, formidable Brazilian jiu-jitsu and superior defense.

McGregor is a fearsome striker with an improving ground game, and his ability to absorb punishment should make it difficult for Aldo to finish quickly. Yet Aldo has been too resourceful and too tough for any opponent since 2005, always finding a way to impose his will on the world's best 145-pounders.

McGregor doesn't think the details matter. He insists his greatest victory has already been won in the arena of Aldo's mind — a notion that Aldo answers with a smirk and a promise to correct.

"I just don't see him answering the bell for the second round," McGregor said. "I can't see his face or his body at the beginning of the second round. I see him KO'd inside one. And when you KO a man inside one, there's no need for a rematch."

ALDO CHAD MENDES CONOR GOING GRAND GARDEN ARENA JOSE ALDO LAS VEGAS MCGREGOR QUOT UFC YET ALDO
Philstar
  • Latest
  • Trending
Latest
Recommended
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

SIGN IN
or sign in with