One punch does not define a fighter
Former UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo deserves his rematch with Conor McGregor.
Aldo reigned supreme over his division, first in the WEC and then the UFC since 2009, defeating all-comers until UFC 194. He was unbeaten in 10 years, and universally regarded in the top three pound-for-pound rankings with Anderson Silva and Jon Jones for years.
In an instant, he became carelessly aggressive, flew into an adversary’s perfectly timed punch and his reign was over. The fact that the punch landed a mere 10 seconds into the first round, and the fight was called three seconds later is testament to his opponent.
Manny Pacquiao also ran head-first into a punch, which left him unconscious and face down in the same venue only a few years earlier. In that case, it was the last second of the sixth round of his fourth fight with arch-rival Juan Manuel Marquez.
Essentially he lost, like Aldo, to a single shot. Imagine if Marquez landed that punch in the first round of their first fight - would we have been denied the wars that gave us 42 rounds of back and forth action, six knockdowns and a rivalry that came to define both fighters?
Speaking on the MMA Hour a few months back, when asked who he’d like to see McGregor face after the loss to Nate Diaz, his coach John Kavanagh said: “Me personally, maybe the Aldo rematch, I'd like to see that again. I just think the first one was great for us, but it was a little bit unfulfilling…a little bit."
"I think Aldo has a fantastic set of skills, he was a great champion and I didn't think that quite closed the chapter on that. So, [let's] see a proper fight,” he added.
McGregor is wary of Aldo, and rightfully so. He has a history of pulling out of fights - the Dubliner was on the end of such a scenario when they were originally scheduled to face off in July 2015 at UFC 189.
If a fight between Max Holloway (who is currently riding a nine-fight win streak) and former lightweight-title-holder-turned-featherweight-contender Anthony Pettis was slated for the undercard of a McGregor-Aldo rematch, then that means that there is a legitimate replacement to step in if anyone pulls out of the fight. None of the four are currently signed up to a fight.
McGregor needs one title defence at featherweight to take away any asterisk which might be applied to his run in the division, and the rematch with Aldo makes perfect sense. Beating the best featherweight in the UFC twice would solidify McGregor's standing.
The first UFC card in New York still needs a main event, and a stacked selection of featherweight bouts could give it a momentum boost as the November date gets closer. However a lightweight title fight between McGregor and Eddie Alvarez appears to be the front runner at the moment.
Could we be missing something similar to Pacquiao-Marquez if we don’t see a second McGregor-Aldo? There’s only one way to find out.