Tuesday 27 September 2016

MGM Grand moved heaven and earth to host McGregor-Aldo grudge match in December

Published 11/08/2015 | 16:13

Conor McGregor and Jose Aldo
Conor McGregor and Jose Aldo

Brace yourselves MMA fans, we’re about to do it all again… After all the hype that went into Aldo v McGregor in the first half of 2015, you’d be forgiven for thinking the fight announced for UFC 194 in December is a rematch. There may be some folks out there who think it is.

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Yahoo’s Kevin Iole reported last night that Aldo v McGregor has been set for UFC 194 in the MGM Grand, Las Vegas. It seems the MGM Grand are the latest company to want to get into the ‘McGregor Business’. In addition to the UFC and Reebok bending over backwards for the Crumlin native, the MGM Grand want to enjoy the fruits of another Irish Invasion. After the incredible success of UFC 189 where Conor claimed the interim featherweight title, the MGM Grand weren’t going to be trumped by Dallas to host the unification bout with Aldo.

Speaking with Iole, UFC president Dana White said "… the MGM really wanted the fight (Aldo v McGregor) and they made a huge effort for it and they got it. And it works out better for us to be in Las Vegas." White went on to say the MGM "moved heaven and earth" to make sure UFC 194 takes place in their room.

Prior to the announcement all the speculation was suggesting the featherweight unification fight would be held in a football stadium in Dallas with Ronda Rousey vs Miesha Tate for the ladies bantamweight fight riding shotgun on the card. It now appears unlikely that Ronda Rousey will fight on the same card.

After all the build up to UFC 189, it’s a testament to Chad Mendes that the momentum for the event wasn’t lost when Jose Aldo pulled out due to injured ribs.

From January to June we watched McGregor grow in confidence and stature as Aldo seemed to get more and more frustrated with his situation. If Aldo thought the ‘belt snatch’ in the Convention Centre in front of 3,000 screaming Irish MMA fans was as bad as it could get…

It seemed only to get worse for the Brazilian as an out of competition drug test took three days to complete. Though results have come back negative for banned substances questions arise over the reluctance from Aldo’s camp to allow the test go ahead and provide the sample.

Even when it was announced that Aldo was out due to injured ribs there seemed to be conflicting evidence circulating around the extent of the injury.

A UFC doctor was dispatched to Brazil and declared Aldo fit to fight.

Then Aldo’s camp released an x-ray of a broken rib. However, this may have been from an injury years prior.

To compound the misery, its estimated Aldo may have lost out on as much as $3 million by backing out of UFC 189.

If all of the above hasn’t made him want to quit, we should see the very best Jose Aldo in Las Vegas in December at UFC 194.

For McGregor he needs to unify the featherweight titles. Interim belts have never been taken seriously in the UFC. The history books will show a world title in McGregor’s MMA record but the interim will take a little shine off the achievement.

It’s not his fault. He turned up for work having dealt with his own injuries throughout his training camp. Indeed, while he may be the complete fighter Conor is also the complete professional.

In addition to dealing with injuries away from the gaze of the MMA media he also did an unprecedented amount of press to hype UFC 189. And though he admitted he didn’t enjoy doing it; he still did it, with a smile like a professional.

Given McGregor is currently filming The Ultimate Fighter reality show and we are only four months removed from the 12th of December, we unlikely to see the same level of promotion for UFC 194.

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