UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo has broken his silence about his cancelled title defense against Conor McGregor.
The longtime 145 lb kingpin had been under fire from fans who were frustrated by his pulling out of the July 11 event, which was among the most anticipated fights of the year. They think, as the UFC implied in a statement last month, that Aldo’s rib injury wasn’t serious enough to warrant the bout’s cancellation.
But Aldo, who provided x-rays of his injury to Brazil’s O Globo, says the criticism in unwarranted. He also disagrees with the UFC’s plan to have McGregor fight Chad Mendes for an interim title — calling it “a toy belt to show to his drunk friends in his country’s bars.”
His statement, as quoted by Ryan McKinnell of Yahoo! Sports, is excerpted below:
“I’m the UFC champion since April 2011, defended my belt seven times in four years, and will do it for the eighth time in 2015, an average of twice a year. And I’m not even mentioning WEC, a Zuffa-owned company, like the UFC, where I became the champion in 2009 and put my belt on the line twice in less than a year. That why I can’t agree with UFC’s decision to have an interim champion in my division citing the five opportunities that I couldn’t defend my belt.
“If those fights had occurred, I would have done 12 title fights in four years in the UFC, an average of three fights a year, something that no other UFC champion did. A UFC champion rarely does three title defenses in one year. So that can’t be the main reason why they are creating an interim title, but the UFC is a private company which I work for, so I can’t complain about its decision, but I can’t say I agree either.
“…If he beats Chad Mendes, the only thing he will have is a toy belt to show his drunk friends in his country’s bars, because that’s what an interim belt represents to me: a toy. I am the champion.”
“It’s sucks for the fans but it is the right decision by him,” Aldo’s Nova Uniao teammate John Lewis remarked on Facebook. “He has to live with the outcome and there is nothing worse than a loss when you know you shouldn’t have been fighting at less than your best. The fight Conor has now is the one that he should have had to earn the shot in the first place. Two great fighters but Aldo is correct.”