The Future of #UFC189 Main Event Looks Bleak
Two weeks remote of his scheduled title defense against “The Notorious” Conor McGregor, Jose Aldo suffered a rib fracture during training, putting the unprecedented bout on hold and the entire MMA universe on the the edge of their seats.
According to MMAFighting.com, sources close to the situation confirmed the injury, which would potentially require three to four weeks to heal. While Nova Uniao has yet to provide an official statement, Aldo is notorious for pulling out of fights due to injury.
Last year’s title defense against Chad Mendes was moved to October from August’s ill-fated UFC 176 after “Scarface” pulled out due to a shoulder and spine injury. Aldo’s decision to pull out ultimately caused the cancellation of the event. While UFC 189’s card is observably more robust than 176, the UFC has observably spent an overwhelming portion of its resources in promoting the main event between Aldo and McGregor, and the story between Aldo and McGregor making this “personal” is what drives the hype for the July 11 event.
Of course, the MMA Twitterverse went abuzz as soon as the news broke. UFC Fight Night Manila main eventer Urijah Faber explicitly tagged Dana White, saying, “If it makes dollars, it makes sense. Put me in, Coach!” When asked which fights made sense for him after his featherweight showdown with Edgar, Faber told MMA Philippines that at this stage in his career he only wants the super fights, and he explicitly mentioned Conor McGregor as one of the two fights (the other being Jose Aldo) he’s willing to take at featherweight.
Faber’s dance partner, former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar was subtler in his approach, tweeting, “Staring at my phone like …” After UFC Fight Night Manila, Edgar demanded that he be given the title shot next, saying that any other fight would not make sense. Considering how big International Fight Week is for the UFC, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Dana & Co. decide to award an interim featherweight championship should Aldo decide to step out due to his injury. Even without a title up for grabs, Edgar has in the past months taken jabs at McGregor’s hype-propelled title shot and his failure to acknowledge just how good Aldo really is, stating, “Conor has never met anyone as strong as Aldo…Whether he deserves (the title shot) or not, that’s in the past.”
UFC 189 main card fighters Jeremy Stephens and Dennis Bermudez also expressed their desire to move up the card and fight McGregor, with Stephens brashly writing, “You know I will bring it. Let me fix the problem with the Irish clown.”
Do we think the fight will push through? Personally, I highly doubt it. The fact that the specific nature of the injury was announced puts a bulls-eye for McGregor to target should the fight proceed. Whether or not Conor decides to target Aldo’s injured ribs, a win over an injured champion will not afford McGregor the full respect and admiration regarded to those who wrest the belt from the greats. (Think: The hate parade Chris Weidman had to go through after he beat Anderson Silva twice, first because “The Spider” was clowning around and second due to injury.)
Should Aldo pull out and the UFC look for a replacement to face McGregor, it will ultimately be in McGregor’s hands to accept, as he risks the golden opportunity to fight the first and only featherweight champion in UFC history if ever he drops the fight against someone he had only two weeks to prepare for. Understand that other featherweights like Edgar and Faber are very different stylistically from what Conor McGregor has been preparing for in Jose Aldo.
Ultimately, Aldo, McGregor, and the UFC are in the fight business, and each party will have to decide in the next few hours or days what course of action will best suit their respective personal interests. For now, we’re keeping our fingers crossed, hoping that this is nothing more than a sick joke to market the fight, nefariously crafted by Aldo or Pederneiras or whoever else is sick enough to make this all up. And Dana White telling us to “Relax, everyone,” is not reassuring at all. No, not at all.