Once upon a time, Conor McGregor and Jose Aldo weren’t on the best of terms.
The two were fierce rivals in 2015, as McGregor set his sights on Aldo’s featherweight belt. The animosity increased during a lengthy promotional tour and again after Aldo was forced to pull out of a scheduled bout with the Irishman at UFC 189. The saga culminated in a 13-second knockout victory for McGregor at UFC 194, ending Aldo’s stranglehold on the division.
While Aldo lobbied for a rematch, McGregor would not compete at 145 pounds again. He was eventually stripped of the title shortly after he moved up to lightweight to claim that division’s belt with a stoppage of Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 in November 2016.
McGregor has gone on to become the promotion’s biggest star, and the feud with Aldo may very well have been the launching point. Aldo, meanwhile, went into a tailspin, losing three of his last four bouts heading into a pivotal UFC on Fox 30 showdown with Jeremy Stephens. Aldo looked impressive in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, last Saturday, as he returned to form with a first-round stoppage of his opponent in the evening’s co-main event.
After the victory, Aldo admitted that he began to doubt his ability to win to win on the heels of back-to-back title bout defeats against Max Holloway. McGregor, for one, took pleasure in seeing his old foe return to the win column in emphatic fashion.
“I’m so happy for him…to see the joy he had after it,” McGregor told TMZ Sports. “It’s a crazy business and I know he’s gone through a lot of stuff. So to see him come back with that great finish, I’m very happy for him and his coach, Andre Pederneiras. All of Ireland was happy for Jose Aldo that night.”
After putting his recent legal issues behind him, McGregor is expected to be booked in a 155-pound title bout against reigning champion Khabib Nurmagomedov at one of the promotion’s pay-per-view events in Las Vegas later this year.