Many professional fighters claim to have learned much more from defeat than in victory. For Jose Aldo, however, there is nothing to be gained from reviewing his 13-second knockout loss to Conor McGregor in December.
“I don’t even think about it. I don’t really watch it,” Aldo said during a recent conference call. “My focus is on Frankie Edgar. That’s really in the past for me. I buried that and it’s stayed in the past. I don’t try to go back and look at it or anything.”
With McGregor’s next 145-pound title defense on hold as he attempts to avenge a previous loss to Nate Diaz in their rematch on Aug. 20, Aldo will square off with Edgar for the interim featherweight strap in a featured clash at UFC 200 on July 9. Both men had aggressively lobbied for a crack at McGregor, but with the Irishman’s future in the division uncertain, a rematch of their UFC 156 showdown — which Aldo won via decision — was the next most appealing option.
And really, Aldo says it doesn’t matter the opponent. His primary objective is UFC gold.
“That’s all I think about,” he said. “That’s my greatest motivation. It doesn’t matter who it is, whether it’s Frankie or anyone else, I want to get my title back.”
Prior to facing McGregor, Aldo had established himself as one of the promotion’s pound-for-pound best fighters. He entered UFC 194 on an 18-fight winning streak that included seven successful title defenses in the Octagon. In the short amount of time it took McGregor to land a counter left hook and two follow-up hammerfists, that reign was over. The loss could easily have taken a devastating physical and psychological toll on the Brazilian star, but Aldo insists that the defeat is not a cause for concern heading into his matchup with Edgar.
“I think it’s two completely different things,” he said. “I’m not trying to look at it like that. It’s not going to teach me anything at this point. Right now I’m focused on Frankie and studying him and looking forward and not looking in the past.”
For his part, Edgar isn’t expecting a diminished version of Aldo, either.
“Not at all. The only thing is he’s coming off a loss and he hasn’t lost in 10 years. I’m sure he’s got some things mentally to get through in this camp,” Edgar said. “No one knows how he’s gonna bounce back and he’s not gonna know until he’s actually in there....I’m expecting a highly-motivated Aldo. I want to come in there and redeem myself. I’m expecting that he’s going to be the best Aldo. I always put my opponents on a pedestal.”
Aldo has no illusions regarding the meaning of the interim title. When McGregor defeated Chad Mendes at UFC 189, Aldo referred to the prize from that bout as a “toy belt.” Now that he’s fighting for the same thing, he recognizes that there is more work to be done should he get past Edgar.
“We’re really fighting for the next title shot,” he said. “I thought I deserved to get a rematch. This is the next step for me to get my belt back.”