The buildup to the showdown between Conor McGregor and Jose Aldo was one of the biggest ongoing stories of 2015, a saga that began to unfold in January of that year and didn’t conclude until December.
Part of that included an unprecedented 12-city, 10-day press tour to hype a proposed meeting between the two men at UFC 189 that summer. McGregor did his best to incite Aldo during the tour, and what appeared to be the foundation of a rivalry was born. However, Aldo pulled out of UFC 189 due to a rib injury, which allowed even more time for their feud to blossom, as McGregor constantly expressed doubt that the Brazilian would show up to the fight. Aldo, meanwhile, didn’t seem too upset with the barbs, claiming that the Irishman was “making me money.”
When they finally did square off, McGregor ended Aldo’s featherweight championship reign in a shocking 13 seconds. Aldo broke down in tears and called for a rematch. But McGregor never came back to 145 pounds, instead moving up to lightweight to capture that title and then, on to a lucrative boxing match with Floyd Mayweather.
Through it all Aldo, who is set to challenge Max Holloway for the featherweight crown in a rematch at UFC 218, never really felt any genuine dislike for McGregor. It’s why he dismisses the notion of a rivalry between the two men. For Aldo, everything boils down to what happens inside the Octagon.
“There was never any rivalry between McGregor and I. We promoted the fight well. He talked to promote his fight, and I fight. We’re different in that,” Aldo said during a recent media call. “The fight ended really quickly and I couldn’t really show what I trained for all those months.”
The same philosophy applies to Holloway as well, although that is more apparent because neither UFC 218 competitor has offered much in the way of pre-fight trash talk.
“The real rivalry is inside of the cage and every athlete’s desire is to win,” Aldo said. “I don’t have any rivalries with Max, but inside of the cage we’re athletes and we want to win.”