Heralded as one of the best mixed martial artists on the planet, and the most dominant featherweight champion in history, Jose Aldo continues to tarnish his legacy.
At UFC 179, Jose Aldo defeated #1 contender Chad Mendes for a second time. The fight saw the champion pushed to the limits in a five round war where Aldo demonstrated a culmination of years of experience, toughness, ability and will to defeat a worthy challenger in Mendes.
Following the fight, talks began of where Aldo, undefeated in ten years, stood in the ranks for not only pound-for-pound best fighter on the planet, but as one of the best fighter’s to ever step foot in the cage, period.
The win over Mendes set up what was to be the biggest fight in UFC history against the up and coming brash Irishman Conor McGregor, who’s crass talk and braggadocio had not only garnered attention to the featherweight division, but propelled “The Notorious” into super-stardom in the process.
Though the fight would be scheduled for April, the promotional blitz would begin much sooner. The UFC invested millions of dollars into a worldwide tour. The tour took the champion and challenger to seven different countries, and numerous media obligations in what would become a successful bid to, not only build the biggest UFC fight in history, but introduce the often media shy champion to fans across the world.
As predicted, the promotional tour would become the Conor McGregor show, with Aldo remaining typically stoic in both his demeanor and responses. He rarely engaged McGregor in a war of words, choosing for the most part instead, to stay cool, calm and collected behind his retro shades, and in doing so lost the respect of many who felt he had let the challenger walk all over him.
The subsequent weeks and months following the promotional tour saw things turn quiet with both men retiring to their respective training camps in anticipation of participating in the biggest UFC fight in history to take place at UFC 189.
Just two weeks out, however, it was reported that upon showing up to conduct a routine drug test ahead of the scheduled bout, Aldo and his camp had called the police and Brazilian Athletic Commission to report Drug Free Sport director Ben Mosier. Immediately the internet was abuzz with conjecture accusing Aldo of eluding the drug test, despite having been tested the same day by the Brazilian Athletic Commission with the results coming back negative.
Intensifying speculation, however, were similar accusations prior to his previously mentioned fight with Chad Mendes. Aldo pulled out of the original bout with an alleged injury for a fight that was supposed to take place in the United States and thus would have subjected Aldo a much more comprehensive testing. The fight would eventually be rescheduled in Brazil, with Aldo emerging victorious and numerous people, including Mendes, questioning the champ’s motives for pulling out of the original fight.
Only days later, things would get even worse for Aldo when reports began to emerge, later confirmed, that Aldo had once again been injured in training, suffering an apparent fractured rib, and would no longer be participating in the biggest fight in UFC history. It would mark the fifth time Aldo had pulled out of a title defense due to injury.
Making matters worse were contrasting reports that Aldo had not suffered a broken bone, but had bruised his rib, and had actually been cleared by three different doctors to fight at UFC 189. In response, Aldo would release an image via twitter showing an X-Ray of a broken rib, however, Dana White would later publicly deny the credibility of the image, claiming it showed an old injury.
It all seemed a little too coincidental and the decision to pull out of UFC 189 left a bad taste in the mouth of not only the UFC, Aldo’s peers, and media alike, but more importantly – the fans. Even more ironic was the fact that Aldo, who has publicly complained about fighter pay and stood to make, according to Dana White $4 million, would decide not to fight.
However, after months of promotion and millions of dollars spent, UFC 189, absent of Aldo, would go on as scheduled. Two-time title challenger Chad Mendes stepped up and took the Brazilian’s place, facing off against McGregor for the interim featherweight championship as part of a fight event that will most likely go down in history as a legendary fight card – sans Aldo.
Perhaps a telling sign that fans are growing tired of the champion was the even bigger success UFC 189 would go on to become with American Chad Mendes stepping into the main event spot.
Despite his reign atop the featherweight division, and all that he has accomplished inside the cage, injuries, fight cancellations and questions surrounding the use of performance enhancing drugs have done nothing in the way of winning over his detractors, and has only marred an increasingly fragile legacy.