UFC interim featherweight champion José Aldo is convinced Nate Diaz will repeat his winning performance against Conor McGregor tomorrow night – and concedes he may have to climb the weight classes himself in search of his own redemption against the Irishman.
Aldo’s 10-year unbeaten run and Hall of Fame reign as 145lb champion was ended by McGregor in record time in December. But the Brazilian bounced back last month with a vintage performance against Frankie Edgar to reclaim a slice of featherweight gold.
In the run up to tomorrow’s UFC 202 main event, UFC president Dana White has reiterated that win, lose or draw McGregor will be returning to the 145lb weight class to defend his belt against Aldo next. But the Irishman, who despite three separate world title reigns has never made a championship belt defense, has been far less committed.
Should McGregor win tomorrow then the chances of him returning to a weight class he has already dominated seem unlikely. Especially with a new champion at 155lb in Eddie Alvarez talking up a potential matchup and former welterweight king Georges St Pierre in the market for a big name return fight.
However, should McGregor lose for a second time against Diaz, who choked the Dubliner out inside two rounds in March, there really is no other way for him to go than back down to featherweight to stay in immediate championship class.
Aldo, however, believes Diaz is the overwhelming favorite this weekend and can’t see past a second consecutive stoppage success for Stockton’s finest.
“For me the final result is going to repeat, that is, it is going to be the same outcome from the first fight between them,” Aldo tells Fighters Only. “I see Nate a lot more prepared. I think he (Conor McGregor) can train on the ground, but he’s not going to learn and he will face a guy who has training on his lifetime.
“You can’t learn to fight within a year something the other guy has a great background. So the result is going to go the same way it happened in March.”
In regards to his own potential rematch with McGregor, Aldo says: “In the first place and I have to be the champion. He isn’t going to fight me without being forced. The moment I am the full champion again we will look to make it happen.
“I will ask the UFC to fight him at 155lb or wherever he wants. But the rematch is a lot more attractive after I become the featherweight champion again. A second fight from a professional aspect is going to be very good for us.”
It’s unusual that Aldo should be talking about becoming the undisputed 145lb champion again in order to move up to lightweight. After all, before McGregor’s name even appeared in the UFC roster, that was a step up the then totally dominat featherweight champion was eager to make.
He adds: “I have already requested to fight at 155lb and the UFC would not let me do it at the time. They asked me to leave and 145lb belt and go up to 155lb. Whether that’s fair or unfair, it’s up to UFC. People are saying he has stopped the featherweight division while he plays around at 170lb, but I don’t care. All that matters for me is to be the champion again.
“Once I have the featherweight world title belt back where it belongs then I will go looking for my own McGregor fight.”