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400 days, 45 events and 6 new UFC champions later, Jose Aldo returns

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Arguably the number 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world, Jose Aldo is set to return to defend his UFC featherweight championship after over 400, (411 when he steps inside the octagon on December 12), days since his last fight.

Aldo was last in action against Chad Mendes at UFC 179 in what was a back and forth five round war. Aldo won the contest by unanimous decision and extended his unbeaten UFC streak to 7.

Aldo was then booked in to face Conor McGregor at UFC 189 back in July, however after suffering a late rib had to pull himself from the fight which led to a stay of absence of over-a-year from the octagon.

So what has happened since he was last in action? Well, A LOT…

  • Since his last outing on October 25 at UFC 179 there have been 45 shows in 12 different countries (Ireland, Scotland, Mexico, Sweden,Australia, Philippines, Germany, Poland, Japan, Canada, Brazil and South Korea. Attended by over 515,748 fans.
  • The UFC has seen six new champions (not including interim) crowned (heavyweight Werdum beating Velasquez, Light heavyweight Cormier beating Anthony Johnson for the vacant title, lightweight Dos Anjos beating Pettis, welterweight Lawler beating Hendricks, women’s bantamweight- Holm beating Rousey and women’s strawweight- Jedrzejczyk beating Esparza).
  • His opponent, Conor McGregor has gone 2-0 inside the octagon beating Dennis Siver and Chad Mendes where he captured the interim featherweight title.
  • The record-breaking deal between the UFC and Reebok was finally implemented as during fight week and in the cage ALL fighters and trainers/corners are kitted head-to-toe in Reebok clothing and footwear.
  • USADA became the official third party anti-doping partner to the UFC. Implementing a random in and out of competition testing programme.
  • Jon Jones was arrested and stripped of his title after he was involved in a hit and run incident. He was suspended by the UFC indefinitely and has since been reinstated and likely returning to fight early 2016
  • Kimbo Slice and Ken Shamrock finally fought at Bellator 138. Slice KO’d Shamrock in the first round.
  • Pride legend Fedor Emelianenko announced his return to the sport.
  • Anderson Silva returned from a near career ending injury to beat the returning Nick Diaz. Both men tested positive for banned substances. Silva was suspended for a year, Diaz for 5-years (Ruling appealed, sentence likely to be reduced).
  • WWE superstar CM Punk signed with the UFC.
  • Long time Team Alpha Male member, T.J Dillashaw split from the team.
  • Josh Koscheck, Josh Thompson and Phil Davis all left the UFC and were signed by Bellator.
  • Frankie Perez, Mirko Cro Cop, Rich Franklin, Sam Stout, Soa Palalei, Cathal Pendred, Mark Munoz and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira all officially retired from MMA.
  • Tito Ortiz fought for the Bellator LHW title, losing via submission to champion Liam McGeary.
  • Royce Gracie came out of retirement, was signed by Bellator and will fight Ken Shamrock in 2016.

Worth noting are some of the fighters who shared the UFC 179 card with Aldo have fought a combined 18 times in his absence, Chad Mendes- fought twice, Glover Teixeira- fought twice, Phil Davis – fought once in UFC, left UFC, signed with Bellator and won light heavyweight tournament, Neil Magny- fought 5 times,Fabio Maldonado- fought twice, Beneil Dariush- fought 3 times and Darren Elkins- fought twice.

 

Now with all the things that have transpired since the champion has been away, he is finally set to lock horns with his rival Conor McGregor. Aldo (25-1) is unbeaten in his last 10-years of fighting, dating back to November of 2006 where he lost via submission at Jungle Fight 5. His UFC 194 opponent Conor McGregor (18-2) is also unbeaten in his last 5 years of professional fighting dating back to his November 2010 loss also via submission at Cage Warriors 39. The fire burning between the two featherweight’s is as hot as ever just over a week away from the fight, the words will finally turn into actions.

UFC 194 takes place Saturday Dec. 12 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas Nevada and will be headlined by the featherweight title bout between champion Jose Aldo and interim champion Conor McGregor. The event will be co-headlined by a middleweight title fight between champion Chris Weidman and challenger Luke Rockhold.

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Dana White gives an update on the lightweight title picture

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When it comes to the lightweight division there is always a lot of talk with very little clarification. But now it seems Dana White has had enough of waiting for champion Conor McGregor and plans to move on in his absence.

“The Notorious” Conor McGregor won the UFC lightweight title back in November 2016 at UFC 205 where he became the first fighter to hold two belts simultaneously, however, he has not competed in MMA since.

Speaking on Sunday night’s after UFC Fight Night St. Louis UFC President Dana White said “Conor has said he is thinking about coming back in September if he comes back in September that’s almost two years, that can’t happen. It’s not fair to everybody else. Love Conor, respect Conor, love everything he’s done for this company, everybody knows that I say it all the time. The belt would have to move on.”

White also spoke about the two men that would fight for the lightweight belt saying “You do Khabib versus Tony, we’re working on that fight now and if and when Conor comes back he would get the first crack at the title.”

Then when presenter Karyn Bryant pushed for clarification and asked: “So you’re saying that Conor could possibly be stripped of his title?” Dana responded without hesitation “absolutely”.

The news will excite UFC fans across the globe who have been clamoring for the Ferguson vs Khabib matchup which they have been denied on three separate occasions. No date was confirmed for the potential matchup but rumors have been circulating that the UFC is targeting UFC 223 in April.

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Dana White gives update on Conor McGregor and the lightweight division

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The top end of the UFC’s lightweight division is thriving. Dustin Poirer defeated former division champion Anthony Pettis, in dominant fashion. Tony Ferguson won the lightweight division’s interim title by carving Kevin Lee from his back. Safe to say, no everyday person would ever want to see Khabib Nurmagomedov down a damp and dark alley. Don’t forget, the gutsy performance of Eddie Alvarez stealing Justin Gaethje’s undefeated record away.  The division is thriving like gas attempting to escape a shaken champagne bottle.

On Friday, UFC President, Dana White, spoke to Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports, about a number of topics. One, which came up fairly quickly; Conor McGregor and his stranglehold on the lightweight belt. The pair began talking about recent performances inside the octagon when the illustrious name of, Khabib Nurmagomedov, came up. White claimed, “Conor always finds a way to win. When he hits you, you go…”. Then speaking of the potential bout between Nurmagomedov and McGregor, “I love that matchup but, Tony Ferguson is the interim champion. Conor and I haven’t really figured out when he’s coming back and what’s going on…”. He continued, “I don’t think Conor wants to fight until August, but if he waits until August or September, that’s around two years since the belt has been defended and that can’t happen”.

Iole followed up by asking, due to circumstances, does McGregor owe it to the sport to defend his title? The UFC president agreed, “And to the other fighters. Not only to the sport but, to the other fighters. This is a game of time… when you’re a professional athlete, time is your enemy and we can’t let this thing go on forever and not give other guys the opportunity. Tony Ferguson has been around for a long time and has earned his dues, Khabib has earned his dues… Conor has done very well, he’s made a lot of money, and if he decides that he doesn’t want to fight again for another however long that’s up to him… but, the belt has to move on… we gotta figure some stuff out here in the next couple months”.

It only makes sense that the UFC wants progression in the one-hundred and fifty-five lb. division. Even without their massive revenue generator, the division must move on. Athletes like Nurmagomedov may be relatively unknown outside the MMA community in the United States but, his official Instagram page holds 3.2 million followers.  While Tony Ferguson may not hold online notoriety, he does have an exciting style. A style that could win a good many of fans, the more exposure he receives.

For White, one of these two men must fight for the division’s championship title. When asked about what is next, he stated, “As long as Conor is willing to fight by March, we could do Khabib versus Tony and then the winner fights Conor… or Conor doesn’t wanna fight and wants to sit out till next fall. Then we would have to make Khabib vs. Tony for the title”.

Time can be the only truth serum in this particular situation. The UFC brass has spoken of forcing McGregor to vacate his lightweight title for some time. Yet, nothing has happened. On the other hand, it would be more than surprising to see the division’s belt sit on the shelf for another year. Considering it all, including the status of contenders and depth of the division, the bottleneck created by one man never ceases to amaze.

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Conor McGregor reacts to Khabib Nurmagomedov’s win at UFC 219

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On Saturday night the world watched as Khabib Nurmagomedov dismantled the striking expert Edson Barboza at UFC 219. The reactions were filled with praise for the undefeated Russian fighter. Media members and fans alike were calling Nurmagomedov one of the best lightweights in the world, but there is one man the world was waiting to hear from, UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor. McGregor was silent following the fight between Nurmagomedov and Barboza, that is until Monday morning when he took to Twitter to state his opinion about the Number one contender.

“Truly truly truly get on your fucking knees and beg me,” McGregor wrote on Twitter.  “Otherwise, I don’t give a bollox.  My whiskey is out this year and that’s Diddy bread.” The whiskey that McGregor is referring to is his very own grand that he announced would be coming out following his loss to Floyd Mayweather this past August.

Rumors about McGregor’s return have ranged from him retiring from fighting to live a life of wealth with his family, to expect his return to the UFC this summer. No one really knows if McGregor will ever defend his UFC lightweight belt, but if he is to do so UFC President Dana White has said that it will be against interim champion Tony Ferguson.

Ferguson was also seeking a fight with Nurmagomedov prior to winning the interim belt against Kevin Lee. It is entirely possible that we will see these two battle for the interim title in the octagon before we see the return of Conor McGregor. Of course, these days there are no guarantees in regards to title contention, McGregor and his camp have publically stated that they would like to face Nurmagomedov in his home country of Russia. 

 

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