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Angry Aldo asks to be released by the UFC as McGregor rematch slips away again

The Brazilian expected to face McGregor next but the Irish fighter will take on Eddie Alvarez instead.

Jose Aldo celebrates with coach Andre Pederneiras following his win against Frankie Edgar at UFC 200 in July.
Jose Aldo celebrates with coach Andre Pederneiras following his win against Frankie Edgar at UFC 200 in July.
Image: John Locher

JOSE ALDO HAS been chasing a shot at revenge against Conor McGregor ever since he lost the UFC featherweight title to the Dubliner via a 13-second knockout at UFC 194.

However, nine months later, the former champion is still no closer to getting that opportunity and he now appears to have given up the pursuit. With McGregor currently preparing to fight for the third time since his victory over Aldo, the frustrated Brazilian has asked to be released from his contract with the UFC.

It was announced yesterday that McGregor’s featherweight belt will continue to lie idle for the foreseeable future as the Irish superstar gets set to face lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez in the main event at UFC 205 in New York on 12 November.

Should McGregor win, he’ll become the first fighter in history to hold two UFC belts at the same time. Despite UFC president Dana White previously insisting that McGregor would have to vacate the featherweight title if he wished to continue competing outside the 145lbs division, the UFC’s most valuable asset has been allowed to keep his belt.

Yesterday’s news came as a surprise to Aldo, who had been promised a rematch with McGregor when he defeated Frankie Edgar at UFC 200 in July to win an interim featherweight title which had been created purely to buy McGregor some time while he was caught up in a two-fight rivalry with Nate Diaz.

After McGregor avenged his March defeat to Diaz last month at UFC 202, Aldo was expecting to renew acquaintances with the only man to overcome him in the UFC octagon. Dana White even indicated as recently as last week in an interview with Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sports that his preference was for the pair to meet in a rematch, with Alvarez defending his belt against Khabib Nurmagomedov instead.

In an interview with Brazilian website Combate, Aldo expressed his disappointment at missing out on another opportunity to fight McGregor — or a bout for a vacated featherweight title at the very least. The 30-year-old said he was offered a chance to compete at UFC 205, but against Max Holloway or Anthony Pettis, not McGregor.

GOP 2016 Convention UFC president Dana White. Source: J. Scott Applewhite

“I heard about everything that happened through my coach [Andre 'Dede' Pederneiras],” Aldo said. “He had spoken with Sean Shelby [UFC matchmaker] on Saturday and Sean still had no answer about anything, and asked if I could fight on 12 November.

“My coach said that if it would be Conor, yes, and then Sean asked him if I would fight Max Holloway or Anthony Pettis. Dede said that for those I’d rather do a full camp and it could be on 10 December.

“We waited until Dana publicly said that he wanted this fight with McGregor to happen — and then we expected it to happen. I’d get my rematch to unify the featherweight belts or I’d have my belt back and fight Holloway or Pettis, since Dana said all the time that Conor couldn’t keep both belts.

But to my surprise, I heard last night about the fight between McGregor and Eddie Alvarez, which was also denied by Dana last week. And to make it worse, he would keep the featherweight belt and possibly have two belts at the same time.”

Dana White claimed yesterday that McGregor will be forced to relinquish one of his belts if he manages to get the better of Alvarez on 12 November. However, McGregor had a different take on the situation at last night’s press conference in New York: “You’re going to need a fucking army to come and take them belts off me.”

Having watched McGregor defy White’s wishes regarding his featherweight belt more than once, Aldo no longer believes  he can trust the UFC president. As a result, he has asked to be released from his contract with the organisation.

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UFC 194 Mixed Martial Arts Aldo was knocked out by McGregor at UFC 194. Source: AP/Press Association Images

“Conor himself said before that he wouldn’t give his belt away by any chance and nobody would take it away from him,” Aldo said. “After all this, I see I can’t trust any word from president Dana White, and who’s in charge of the promotion now is Conor McGregor.

“Since I’m not here to be an employee of McGregor, today I ask to cancel my contract with the UFC. When they offered me a fight with Frankie Edgar, Dana said that the winner would challenge McGregor or win the undisputed title; that he would lose his belt if he didn’t return to the featherweight division after his rematch with Nate Diaz.

After being fooled so many times, I don’t feel motivated to fight in the UFC anymore.”

Aldo added: “I don’t believe in Dana saying that Conor would have to vacate one of the belts after UFC 205 because based on what we’re seeing, this type of decision is not in his hands anymore. Conor makes the calls now.

“And the biggest proof that who’s in charge in the UFC now is Conor is that when I wanted to move up to fight Pettis [in 2013], they said I’d have to vacate my belt and try this fight with no title whatsoever. But with him [McGregor], they let him move up to the division above without losing his belt, and they also let him do any fight he wants.

“I understand that he sells a lot, but it gets to a limit when it’s no longer a sport, it becomes a circus. I don’t want any type of fight with the UFC. The only thing I want is to go on with my life, and they will go on with theirs.”

When asked about Aldo’s request for a release, White said he won’t be let go and something else will be arranged for the former pound-for-pound number one instead: “We won’t cancel his contract. We know he got very emotional. We respect Jose Aldo very much. We care for the people around him. Khabib Nurmagomedov wanted a fight on the card and we got it for him. I’m sure we can find something nice for Aldo as well.”

MMA - UFC 205 Eddie Alvarez, Dana White and Conor McGregor at last night's UFC 205 press conference. Source: Julie Jacobson

However, Aldo later reiterated his intention to leave the UFC. In fact, the former WEC champion, who was undefeated in mixed martial arts for 10 years prior to his loss to McGregor, said he intends to retire from the sport entirely.

“If [White] likes me and my family, I just hope he releases me. I don’t want a fight. I want to leave as I came in. The UFC and WEC didn’t give me anything. Everything I conquered was my merit and from my team. Nobody gave me anything. I conquered everything.

I gave them a lot more than they gave me back. I just want them to release me from my contract. I’m not a whore to sell myself [for money]. I don’t even want to fight MMA. I want to follow a career in another sport. That’s what I want.”

McGregor was booked to fight Aldo twice in 2015. The first bout, at UFC 189 in July, fell through when Aldo withdrew due to an injury. In Aldo’s absence, McGregor defeated Chad Mendes to win an interim title before unifying the belts with his swift knockout victory in Las Vegas last December.

“We’ll see what happens with Aldo,” McGregor said at last night’s Madison Square Garden press conference. “It’s hard to even think of Aldo. I KO’d him in 13 seconds. I travelled around the world with him. He pulled out on two weeks’ notice. If Frankie [Edgar] was good enough and he had come through that last one, it would have been me and Frankie for the featherweight belt here. He just wasn’t up to scratch.

“I’m going to let that featherweight division play out and see how it goes, but I’m the featherweight world champion and in November I’m going to be the lightweight world champion, and I’m going to hold the two of them consecutively. That’s it.”

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