Based on the $7.1 million gate (and counting) and projected one million pay-per-view buys UFC 189 is set to rake in, Saturday marks the biggest featherweight fight in UFC history. Ironically, the only 145 pound champion the UFC has ever known will be nowhere in sight.
If you are fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of reigning UFC featherweight king Jose Aldo (pictured), he’ll be donning a $95 Chad Mendes replica jersey made by Reebok. OK, let’s be real. Nobody in their right mind is paying that much money for those bland replica jerseys. But, that doesn’t mean Aldo won’t be Mendes’ biggest fanboy come Saturday.
Mendes issued a tweet earlier this week in Portuguese asking if Aldo nation will support him when he faces mutual mortal enemy Conor McGregor for the vacant interim featherweight title at UFC 189.
“When we compete, we compete. But you always respect me. @thenotoriusmma does not respect anything. Will I have the support of your fans # UFC189?” Mendes asked (via Google Translate).
Aldo promptly responded with an affirmative, “The respect is mutual and I’m looking forward to fight u Again, because I know you’ll beat the Joker up! U can count on my fans! @chadmendes!”
While Aldo may despise McGregor more than life itself – to the point where he seriously contemplated staying in Saturday’s scrap despite suffering a broken rib – it is in his best interest for McGregor to capture the “toy belt.”
Though he’s publicly backing Mendes, there are two primary reasons why he should privately support McGregor: Money and legacy.
According to UFC president Dana White, Aldo missed out on roughly a $4 million payday by withdrawing from UFC 189. That would have marked the largest paycheck of Aldo’s career, by far. The only way for the previously homeless Brazilian to recoup those funds is for McGregor to win, which would set up a blockbuster title unification bout.
A third title tango with Mendes wouldn’t generate nearly as much money since Aldo is already up 2-0 on “Money.”
Mendes might be the UFC featherweight division’s current #1 ranked fighter, but Aldo has already proven twice that he can take the wrestler – once in highlight reel fashion. Aldo needs to posterize new, top-tier blood in order to cement his legacy.
Aldo already holds a win over #2 ranked Frankie Edgar, so beating #3 rated McGregor is the next logical leap towards solidifying his status as the planet’s top featherweight in bare feet.
Successive title defenses are one thing, which Aldo already has nine (two in the WEC before getting promoted to the UFC), but posting them against archenemies is what legends are made of.
Sure, it’s always more fun to root for your enemy to lose, but Aldo would be best served if McGregor won.