After more than a year’s worth of anticipation, UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo (25-1-0) and No. 1 contender Conor McGregor (18-2-0) will finally step into the octagon with one another. The Brazilian champion and Irish interim title holder will meet at UFC 194 on Dec. 12 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada, as they headline the UFC’s year-end pay-per-view event.
These two were originally slated to meet at UFC 189 in July but a rib injury forced Aldo to drop out of the bout a few weeks prior. McGregor instead fought Chad Mendes and won the interim championship with a second-round TKO. McGregor, who did his share of trash talking on an eight-city world press tour leading up to the original fight date, took Aldo’s injury as a sign of fear and still claims he doesn’t think Aldo will even show up in Las Vegas.
"I still don't think he will show," McGregor told GQ magazine. "I am trying to be optimistic but I am never wrong, I always predict the outcome of my fights and I am never wrong."
Even if Aldo does come to fight at UFC 194, McGregor says the fight has already been won.
"I have beaten him already," said the Dublin native. "He is dead. Look at his body language. His body is weak and his mind is weaker. I can smell the lack of confidence … He cannot beat me. He knows it. It's why he went running last time."
Among his few responses to McGregor’s antics, Aldo expressed confidence about his chances. "My focus is to win ... I’m sure he will leave the fight injured and I will leave with the win,” Aldo told Brazilian multimedia outlet Globo in October. Aldo hasn’t lost a fight in 10 years and has been an MMA featherweight champion since 2009.
Aldo is considered one of the greatest Brazilian fighters of all-time and is the only champion in the history of UFC’s featherweight division, defending his belt seven consecutive times. Aldo’s fighting base is Brazilian jiu-jitsu but he’s known mainly for his aggressive striking. In addition to a willingness to throw punches, Aldo possesses a strong ground game and the ability to submit high-level grapplers. His agile footwork allows him to move around the octagon with ease and he’s got a variety of kicks and knees that he frequently employs.
In addition to offensive skills, the current No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter is an excellent defender, avoiding 91 percent of total takedowns attempted against him. Aldo began fighting in the WEC in 2008 before its unification with UFC in 2010. Of his 25 victories, 14 have come via knockout but has won three of his last four fights by decision.
Since his UFC arrival two years ago, McGregor has been one of the sport’s biggest draws and arguably its biggest lightning rod for controversy. His confidence and brashness have made him "must-see TV" for many MMA fans whether they want to see him win or lose. “The Notorious” seems to have developed a fighting style all his own, blending elements from more than one place or style. His approach has been described as "off-beat" and "unusual" and opponents often poorly adjust to his technique.
An unorthodox fighter with a wide array of skills, McGregor is particularly effective with his feet as a striker. He’s got powerful punching skills and uses his hands like a boxer coupled with muay Thai abilities. Although McGregor is adept at fighting on the ground, he prefers to stand up and dictate the fight from his feet. McGregor also has seems to have higher threshold for pain than most fighters, and little problem dishing out punishment. Five of McGregor’s six victories have been TKOs via punches. Of his 18 victories, 16 have come by knockout.
The Aldo-McGregor match for the featherweight championship headlines a five-fight card featuring another title fight between middleweight champion Chris Weidman and No. 1 contender Luke Rockhold.
McGregor enters as the favorite at -145, while Aldo is listed at +115, according to bovada.lv.