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'Fighters can break under the spotlight' – Has Conor McGregor beaten Jose Aldo already?

This week’s MMA column looks the UFC 189 press tour and the psychological warfare being waged.

Norman Parke has fight announced and Aisling Daly has an opponent change. And finally, Team Ryano are looking to make their mark down in South Africa.

The UFC 189 Press World Tour has been nothing short of fascinating. Instead of getting monotonous and predictable the tour has been a tense affair from the first meeting with the intensity rising at each subsequent event. It could easily be rebranded to the Conor McGregor Show. The Dubliner has entertained at every event. If all the effort and energy does, in fact, count towards anything then its round one to ‘The Notorious’.

Spare at thought for champion Jose Aldo. He's been wheeled out in front of the media, where he doesn't like being, dealing nearly entirely through a translator opposite maybe the greatest talker in the history of sport and not just MMA. In truth there are only one or maybe two fighters in the UFC who compete with McGregor’s verbal jousting. Jose Aldo would probably tell you himself, he’s not one of them.

Last week we heard SBG head coach, John Kavanagh describe how he felt Conor had lured Aldo into his mental trap. The fight was already won.

On paper, it's hard to dismiss the Brazilian given his MMA pedigree. In reality Kavanagh may be right.

As each UFC video is released documenting every angle of the press tour, you see McGregor giving another virtuoso media performance. Jose Aldo, however, appears to be on a decent into despair.

UFC 189 Press Tour Highlights from New York

It seems opponents of SBG’s finest go through several stages mental and emotional torture on route to being beaten in the Octagon.

When the fights are announced, they dismiss Conor as a joker and discredit him by concentrating more on his verbal activity than his physical achievements.

Then at the first stare down, weeks before the fight, it's as if the rude awakening occurs. There is a moment of clarity when they realise… Ok, this guy is actually serious.

After weeks of baiting they start to feel compelled to respond. They start to react to the verbal jabs, they start to press forward at any meetings. They don’t want to be seen as they guy going backwards. It's as if they try to do back to Conor what he's doing to them.

But they can't. Maybe they don't believe in what they’re doing.

We saw it best with Dustin Poirier. He went from being polite and offering the usual sound bites about how ‘he's going to do his thing to get the gold’ to screaming like a maniac at the Irish fans and then rushing towards McGregor at the weigh in. It smacked of desperation, a last ditch effort to reclaim some pride.

Thanks to the UFC's coverage we've seen Aldo go from unflinching when Conor leapt the Octagon wall and rushed him in Boston in January to a tormented fly caught in McGregor's mental web.

The press tour continues in London this morning before arriving in Dublin tomorrow. Things aren't going to get any easier for Jose.

New Date and Dance Partner for Daly

News came late last week that Claudia Gadelha is out of her UFC Fight Night 64 fight against Ireland’s Aisling Daly. The disappointment didn’t last too long for Ais as its been since announced that she will take on Randa Markos at UFC 186 on April 25 in Montreal, Canada.

Gadelha is currently ranked #2 in the UFC ladies straw-weight division and a win for Daly would conceivably have put her in touching distance of a title shot.

Markos is ranked #7 and will be a tough prospect given she’ll be fighting in her back yard. A win could still put ‘Ais The Bash’ very much in the title picture and vault her a numbers of places up the rankings.

It’s a pity for any Irish fans who had booked flights and hotels to watch one of Ireland’s MMA pioneers.

Stormin Norman Parke looking to bounce back against Burns

Norman Parke suffered his first UFC loss at the hands of veteran Gleison Tibau back in January. He’ll be looking to get back to winning ways against the undefeated Gilbert Burns at UFC Fight Night 67 on May 30th in Goiânia, Brazil.

It will be Parke’s second trip to Brazil after he fought Leonardo Santos to a draw in March 2014.

Parke (20-3-1) dropped a split decision to Tibau giving taking first loss since March 2010 at the hands of ‘Irish’ Joe Duffy.

Gilbert Burns managed to come back from a two round beating to submit Alex Oliveira in Brazil Last weekend.

Norman was in Blackpool last weekend to corner his club-mate Conor Cooke at BAMMA 19. Unfortunately, the Next Genreation NI man was submitted in the first round.

Africa Odyssey for Team Ryano

After announcing recently that EFC Worldwide had signed Louth’s Stephanie Quaile on a six fight contract one of her Team Ryano team-mates will now be heading down to South Africa with her.

EFC 38 takes place in Durban on the 4th April. SBG’s Peter Queally was due to fight home town hero Martin van Staden with the winner progressing to a title shot. However, Queally was forced to withdraw leaving EFC briefly contemplating the future of the event.

Enter Ayo Daly, who we featured previously winning his pro debut in Lithuania. Keen to keep his career momentum going Daly, who trains with Quaile and UFC fighters Neil Seery and Paul Redmond at Team Ryano in Finglas, has been drafted in at the 11th hour to replace Queally.

The welterweight contender was in early training for a fight in June at BattleZoneFC 13 has had to step up to take a superb opportunity.

EFC Worldwide have recently penned a deal with ESPN in Europe. Through the ESPN Player you can buy access to the next three events starting with EFC 38 this weekend.

Online Editors