RIO DE JANEIRO – Among the mostly positive feedback from the MMA community after Conor McGregor’s display in his loss to Floyd Mayweather, some of the lightweight champ’s UFC peers stood out for somewhat saltier responses.
Speaking on the matter for the first time Friday, Aldo offered an explanation for the tweets – or something close to that.
“First of all, I didn’t even watch the fight,” Aldo said during the launch of one of his burger shops in Rio de Janeiro. “I was at a football game. It’s a No. 1 sport for me. I’m very passionate about it – Rams and Chargers. So I didn’t even watch the fight. I don’t know. I have people who take care of my social media.
“I can’t even talk about what happened, because I didn’t watch the fight. I talked about it a lot. I was surrounded by boxers where I was, and they talked about the fight. But I didn’t watch it myself.”
Asked directly if that mean he wasn’t the one who tweeted it out, Aldo went with misdirection.
“You know every athlete has people who handle their social media – who work their social media,” Aldo said.
Aldo (26-3 MMA, 8-2 UFC) and McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) don’t have the friendliest of pasts. Before their UFC 194 fight – which ended with McGregor snapping Aldo’s decade-long unbeaten streak and taking the featherweight belt – the two traded some serious barbs for months.
Aldo, who just returned home after a stint sharpening up his own boxing skills in California, says he still hasn’t had a chance to watch “The Money Fight.” But as he got home from the game, he got updates about what was happening from a friend.
And the ex-champ says he wasn’t particularly surprised when he caught wind of the result.
“I spent this entire time with them, and they said that was going to happen,” Aldo said. “Conor doesn’t have good cardio, and (they) knew he’s not used to boxing. Mayweather was closed up, just waiting for the time to pounce. The guy hadn’t fought for two years.
“A lot of people talk a lot of crap, like, ‘Oh, he landed many more blows than (Manny) Pacquiao or (Miguel) Cotto and everyone.’ But no one says that (Mayweather) didn’t fight for two years. He didn’t even prepare for the fight. He knew, like everyone at the gym said, that it would be very hard (for McGregor to win) – very, very hard.”
While McGregor did in fact succumb to Mayweather, as most expected, the fact that he managed to survive 10 rounds against the undefeated boxer drew praise from many of his peers. Considering it was McGregor’s professional boxing debut – and all the odds against him – some would say the result was a moral victory.
That group, it turns out, does not include Aldo.
“Of course not,” Aldo said. “Moral? First of all, you try to prove that with someone who’s almost 41, who’s been away (from the sport). Of course, it was a money fight. A moral victory would have been taking on an active boxer, a champion, and then fought him. And then you’d see how he would barely last a round. Because it’s an entirely different sport. We need to put ourselves in our places.
“I’m an MMA athlete. I can’t go tomorrow and say I’m going to do muay Thai in Thailand with a Thai fighter, because I can punch and kick well. There’s no way. Each one in their places. I respect martial arts, so I put myself in my place. I don’t see a moral victory.”
Aldo’s outlook on the showdown is not entirely grim. On the bright side, the former 145-pound kingpin believes it brought added eyeballs to MMA – which, in turn, might translate to some heftier paydays for all parties involved.
“I’m happy he did a big fight, and I think it promoted MMA,” Aldo said. “I’m happy because of that. But as for the fight itself? Nobody liked the way it happened. They thought it was a circus. I don’t know what they’re saying (in Brazil), but in America that was the comment – that it was a circus fight.”
Aldo had made no secret of his interest in starting out a boxing career of his own. In his case, though, he says he wants to start from the bottom and make his way up. Immersing himself in this universe, he explained, did light up a spark in him – but it also showed him how much he has to learn.
“I trained with champions at the gym, at Robert Garcia’s,” Aldo said. “There were practically only champions (there). I got to spar and to train with them and see how boxing is. I don’t think I have the level today to go in there and challenge a champion. First of all, I don’t think I even have the nerve to challenge someone. I think I respect it.
“I think there are many people who have been training their entire lives to get there and fight for a world title in boxing. I’d rather start from scratch and go step-by-step, not disrespecting anyone. Because I think this way I can make it much further.”
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