Conor McGregor (pictured) says Jose Aldo should “toughen up” for UFC 189. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Conor McGregor knows that no matter what the various medical reports might say, there is still no guarantee that he will be facing Jose Aldo at UFC 189.
Aldo’s status appeared to be in doubt earlier this week when reports surfaced that the featherweight king had suffered a broken rib in training. UFC President Dana White then took to Twitter to inform the masses to “relax,” and the Las Vegas-based promotion subsequently released a statement announcing that Aldo had suffered a bone bruise to his rib and cartilage injury and still expected to defend his title at UFC 189.
However, there is a contingency plan in place if Aldo cannot go, which apparently remains a possibility. If the Brazilian is not healthy enough to compete, Chad Mendes will fight McGregor for the interim 145-pound strap. Either way, the “Notorious” Irishman” says one thing is certain: He will be present at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on July 11.
Nonetheless, the UFC’s fastest rising star has a message for Aldo.
“Just toughen up and show up,” McGregor said during an interview that aired during Saturday’s UFC Fight Night broadcast. “Many people have stepped inside the Octagon with little itty-bitty bruises, you know? We all have knocks and bruises. Dust it off and step up to the plate and fight like a man. Fight like the champion you should be.
“There’s a lot on the line; there’s a lot of money, a lot of pride. There should be no reason to pull out of this contest,” he continued. “But if he does, that’s on him and I cannot force an individual to step in there. If I ask myself truly, would I like to step in the Octagon and face me, I would probably go running too. If it’s little mini Mendes, we’ll smoke him too. But I hope Jose shows up and fights like a man.”
With the matchup is still currently scheduled to take place, there has been plenty of concern that the revelation of the nature of Aldo’s injury will diminish both the quality and outcome of the bout. While knowing Aldo’s area of weakness would seem to a significant advantage, McGregor says he doesn’t plan on exploiting it.
“It doesn’t affect my approach at all,” he said. “I have told him not to worry about his rib; it’s the chin that I am hunting. I plan on cracking him in the chin and stiffening him up. I will not go out there and purposely target an area similar to the way he did to a previous opponent, ‘The Korean Zombie.’ I am not that kind of fighter. I will go out and I will crack the chin, which is what I have been envisioning in camp. I just hope he toughens up.”
McGregor references Aldo’s UFC 163 triumph over Chan Sung Jung, where the Korean fighter dislocated his shoulder throwing a punch, allowing the champion to target the injured area for a fourth-round technical knockout victory.
Despite a string of 18 consecutive victories, the fact that Aldo’s injury has become public knowledge before the fight has led many oddsmakers to to label the Brazilian the underdog . That comes as no surprise to McGregor, who thought he should have been the favorite all along.
“The bookmakers know what they’re talking about. They know what’s coming. Everyone can see what’s coming. I am not surprised I am the favorite,” McGregor said. “I believe before the fight was even scheduled I said I would be the favorite in this contest. And now here we are; I am the favorite. It’s not a surprise to me.”
The uncertainty surrounding the headliner of 2015’s most heavily promoted card would seemingly lead to a stressful few weeks for the main players involved, but not McGregor. He sees Aldo’s iffy status as business as usual.
“It’s been a familiar week in the fight business,” he said. “As you know, many people sign on the dotted line and then don’t show up. It’s part of the business, so it’s something I have become accustomed to. It is what it is. I carry on as a professional. I will be there on July 10 at 145 pounds, and on July 11 I will raise gold.”