Even Conor McGregor had to admit that he would have liked to fight a little longer at UFC 194.
While 13 seconds was all the Irishman needed to put a stunning end to Jose Aldo’s lengthy featherweight title reign, he recognized that the months of hype turned out to be a stark contrast to the time the two rivals actually spent in the Octagon on Saturday night.
“Jose has been a phenomenal champion,” McGregor said at Saturday’s post-fight press conference. “It would’ve been nice if the contest had of stretched out a little bit longer just for all that it’s been through, but I still feel the same process would’ve happened. Timing beats speed; precision beats power. That’s it. I respect Jose. I wish him well, but now we are on to the next chapter.”
Aldo wasn’t quite ready to move on. The Brazilian broke down in the Octagon after the defeat, and shortly thereafter called for another chance to redeem himself.
“I think we need a rematch and that will be my fight. The trash talking didn’t affect me, I don’t care what he says,” Aldo said. “Thanks to everyone watching in Brazil and thank you for the support. I will be back.”
Aldo entered the bout on a 18-fight winning streak, including 15 fights under the Zuffa banner. His list of conquests included Urijah Faber, Mike Thomas Brown, Cub Swanson, Chad Mendes, Ricardo Lamas, Kenny Florian and Frankie Edgar, to name a few. He helped to usher in the smaller weight classes into the UFC as the promotion’s inaugural 145-pound ruler.
Suddenly, none of that seemed to matter when he was overwhelmed by the McGregor tidal wave in front of a throng of rowdy Irish fans at MGM Grand Garden Arena. In the chaos of a career-defining triumph, McGregor says he still sought out Aldo to offer some measure of consolation for the fallen champion.
“What I said was, ‘Look we can go again.’ Although it’s a nice feeling to get that knockout, it’s kind of not nice because you can see what’s happening around,” McGregor said. “You don’t want to see the only champion in the company’s history going out like that. I had a little moment where I felt sorry for Jose.
“It’s been a long road, and I appreciate that he showed up here and made the journey. Because I have no doubt there were options to pull [out] like the last time. This time he stuck around. I just said we can do it again, but he was off in his own world, I believe. They are probably still resentful and bitter towards it. Like I said: Winners focus on winning, losers focus on winners.”
In reality, an immediate rematch seems unlikely for Aldo. With dual-division dreams dancing in his head, McGregor is uncertain if or when he will see his Brazilian foil again.
“That’s on him. That’s up to him what way he goes about his next step. I feel he could take a step back, re-center himself,” McGregor said. “It’s not the same when you sign to fight me. It’s a completely different pressure. He felt the pressure like he’d never felt before; that’s because he was facing me… I think Jose should go back, regroup, get back in line for a No. 1 contender spot and go from there.”