Jose Aldo had a decade-long win streak snapped at UFC 194 in December 2015 when Conor McGregor knocked him out in the opening seconds of their 145-pound title bout. In the year since, McGregor has fought three times, but not at featherweight. Aldo defeated Frankie Edgar to become the interim champion and was later elevated to the champion when McGregor relinquished the belt after winning the lightweight title last month.
Despite all the twists and turns that led to the belt returning to him, Aldo considers himself the legitimate champion.
“Yes, I consider myself the champion. No, the way that I got the belt doesn’t affect how I view myself. I’ve always been the champion. The champion is the person that defends the belt, not the person that gets the belt and flees the division,” Aldo told MMAFighting.com.
“I should have gotten an immediate rematch. It was completely warranted and what should have happened. It didn’t happen, though. When they gave me Frankie Edgar, I knew that belt wasn’t going to remain the interim belt. I knew Conor wasn’t coming back; everyone knew he wasn’t coming back. That’s the real belt. I’m the one that has defended this belt. I’ve been the king of this division for a long time. I’ve never not seen myself as a champion. I lost a fight. That’s it. I knew that I was going to be the champion of this division and that’s how I still see myself. I’ve always been the champion.”
Aldo didn’t get his rematch with McGregor and doesn’t feel like McGregor was ever the champion of the featherweight division.
“First of all, I never stopped being the champion. When I lost to Conor, he should have rematched me right away. Like I’ve always said and done, the champion is the guy who defends the belt against all challengers. Guys who run from title defenses are not champions. All Conor did was he beat the champion. But he never did what he had to do to become the champion. He’s never been the champion of the featherweight division,” he said.
Aldo insists that McGregor isn’t the same person in front of the cameras as he is behind the scenes. He considers the Irishman ‘two-faced’ and accused him of picking his opponents.
“He’s two-faced. He says a lot of stuff to the press, but behind-the-scenes, he turns down fights left and right. He picks opponents, he picks events. He’s not willing to face challengers the way a champion should be ready to face challengers. That’s not a true champion, said Aldo. “He wasn’t the champion at all. He never defended the belt. He wanted to stall an entire division. That’s not being a champion. I’ve never seen Conor as the featherweight champion. He’s not the champion now. I’ve never stopped being the featherweight champion.”
According to Aldo, the only reason a rematch with McGregor hasn’t happened is because McGregor doesn’t want the fight.
“The first thing we did after my fight with McGregor was ask for the rematch, and it should have happened. We’ve tried to make that fight a lot of times, as has the UFC. When I sat down with Dana [White], and explained to him all the reasons why I was frustrated as a fighter, he said to me, ‘I’ve tried to make the fight. [Conor] doesn’t want to fight you. I can’t force [Conor] to fight you. You and I, Jose, we want this rematch to happen. But he’s not saying yes.’ We’ve been trying, but the problem isn’t on my side of the equation. Conor is two-faced and he doesn’t want to fight me. He wants to talk a big game to the press. He doesn’t step up and take the fights to prove he’s a real champion,” the Brazilian explained.
“I went to bed one night believing the UFC was going to announce my rematch with Conor McGregor and I woke up to read the news that they booked Eddie Alvarez instead. My conversations with the UFC were, ‘It’s happening. We’re booking it.’ And then literally overnight something changed without my participation. The bottom line is, Conor doesn’t want to fight me. There’s nothing else I can do. I don’t think there’s anything else the UFC can do. If he keeps saying no and keeps running away, he’s going to keep running away. He’s a clown.”