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Why Jose Aldo says we shouldn't fault Conor McGregor for Bellator in-cage melee

RIO DE JANEIRO – In light of his most recent controversial outburst, UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor got some surprising support from a UFC peer and former foe.

After a Bellator 187 ruckus that involved McGregor hopping over the fence, invading the cage and confronting referee Marc Goddard, the champ had his actions defined as “assault” by a commission representative. McGregor has since apologized – or something close to that – and Goddard, himself, has issued a few statements on the matter.

Here’s footage of the melee (via Twitter):

While McGregor’s antics are not particularly shocking, this one prompted questions as to just how far the UFC champ can push things – in this case, somewhat literally – before getting punished.

But despite his own turbulent past with McGregor, one man who took no issue with the Irishman’s actions in Dublin earlier this month is former 145-pound champ Jose Aldo.

“I didn’t watch the video, but I heard about it,” Aldo said today during a media day in Rio de Janeiro. “I think it’s part of it. He’s an emotional guy. He’s a guy who – whenever there are Irish guys involved, I think not only him, but the Irish people embrace them.

“So I won’t condemn him or say he did something just to get attention. He’s always done that. When we were (on ‘The Ultimate Fighter’), too, one of his athletes won, and he jumped in there. He even tore his pants. He’s a very emotional guy too, I don’t condemn him for what he did.”

McGregor, who wasn’t a licensed cornerman at the event, invaded the cage seemingly to celebrate with SBG Ireland teammate Charlie Ward, who’d just dropped John Redmond with a hook. Ward was declared the TKO winner of the middleweight bout.

Aldo, who lost the UFC’s 145-pound crown to McGregor in 13 seconds after months of a heated promotion, went on to say he thought the criticism toward the Irishman was unfair – and that he, too, has invaded the cage at Shooto Brazil events multiple times.

“When someone I’m close to fights, I go up there,” Aldo said. “The referee talks to me, but I go up there anyway. It’s in the heat of emotion. I think there are bigger things than rules.”

After the loss to McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) in 2015, Aldo (26-3 MMA, 8-2 UFC) took the division’s interim title with a win over Frankie Edgar and was later reinstated as the undisputed champ. He lost the belt to Max Holloway (18-3 MMA, 14-3 UFC) at UFC 212.

On Dec. 2 at UFC 218, Aldo tries to re-claim the crown from Holloway after stepping in for the injured Edgar.

After beating Aldo, McGregor never defended the featherweight belt. He fought twice against Nate Diaz at welterweight and then became the first simultaneous two-division UFC champion by beating Eddie Alvarez for the lightweight crown. He then relinquished the 145-pound crown, which made Aldo the undisputed champ again.

That was over a year ago, and McGregor has yet to defend the 155-pound title. Rather, he went on to compete in a boxing match with Floyd Mayweather. An interim lightweight title was created and won by Tony Ferguson, and McGregor’s UFC return remains a mystery.

Asked whether the believes that the time is coming for the UFC to either have McGregor defend the 155-pound crown or have him vacate it like what happened with the 145-pound one, Aldo said yes.

“He has to do this defense; he has to put his belt on the line so that he can then be the champion,” Aldo said. “So far, he’s only won the title. But for me, Ferguson has a great chance of being champion in the future.”

For more on UFC 218, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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