By E. Marcel Pourtout, Editor
Music to listen to: Prelude / Kiara by Bonobo (live)
-Jose Aldo is out and Chad Mendes is in to face Conor McGregor for the interim UFC featherweight title at UFC 189.
Mixed Martial Arts is a cruel sport. Aldo and McGregor have been slated to fight for months in the biggest fight of the year. Fans from literally around the world made plans to travel to Las Vegas to see these two battle for supremacy. The UFC itself admitted to putting the most money ever in the promotion of a fight into this battle. The two men did a worldwide press tour that took them to three continents and five countries in a week. Anticipation was at a premium.
Than Aldo fractured his rib in training and the fight is now off.
First, the fact that Aldo, who has a history of getting injured before fights and missing contests, gets hurt preparing for his biggest payday stinks for everyone involved. There’s a reason that the injury was first reported last week but Aldo, according to Sherdog.com continued training, taking anti-inflammatory medicine and platelet-rich plasma injections to his body. He was going to do whatever it took to make it to this fight which would have made him millions. However, Aldo was wisely pulled from the fight.
Personally, I wasn’t a fan of McGregor getting the title shot seeing how he’s not even in my top-five rankings within the division. However, after my initial critique, I changed my mind because Aldo has already defeated Mendes, Frankie Edgar, Ricardo Lamas, the other guys I have ahead in my rankings. Also, McGregor has done an amazing job selling this fight from his verbal statements towards Aldo, social media insults and theatrics during press conferences.
My 17-year old nephew who is starting watching MMA in the past year can’t stop talking about McGregor who has become his favorite fighter. My 17-year old, black nephew from Georgia currently living in Florida has adopted a white Irishman as his fighter of choice. The UFC has to drool over the crossover demographics that shows. McGregor has made himself a known name in a sport that can honestly use some personality from its top fighters.
The point of all this was that an old-school fan like me who remembers watching MMA fights in Japan on the internet in the early 2000’s has been able to bond with a new-school fan and McGregor is a factor in that.
Now McGregor faces Mendes who brings the wrestling and striking skills that many feels McGregor has never fought against in the UFC. For those who wanted to see McGregor get past a wrestler before getting a title shot, myself included, that wish has oddly come true.
I’ll save my prediction for next week but we’re truly going to see McGregor’s star appeal when the pay-per-view numbers come out. Its also a major risk for the UFC because if Mendes mauls McGregor, that eliminates the maximum potential for the Aldo/Mendes fight.
If McGregor wins the interim title, his fight with Aldo may become even bigger.
-Yoel Romero is a bad man and a major threat to Chris Weidman. Even though it happened two weeks ago, acknowledgment should be given to Romero for his dominating third-round knockout win over Lyoto Machida.
Romero may be the most explosive fighter in the UFC middleweight division and possibly the entire promotion. His physicality of getting takedowns and fast-twitch punches is tough for any opponent to match. I believe Romero should face Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza in his next fight in a number-one contender matchup with the winner of that fight facing the victory of the Weidman/Luke Rockhold contest.
-Romero’s post-fight comments didn’t bother me even though I didn’t agree with them. This deserves its own commentary which will come soon because it touches on a subject I have high interest in; the freedom of speech for public figures.
After Romero defeated Machida, he made statements glorifying God and renouncing homosexuality. Excuses have been made by others claiming that’s not what Romero said citing his broken English. While English may not be Romero’s primary message, it was clear what he was trying to say.
Furthermore, the timing of the Supreme Court of the United States granting full rights for same-sex couples to marry the day before makes it obvious that this topic was on Romero’s mind.
Personally, I disagree with that opinion greatly but Romero has the right to say what he believes. He didn’t use derogatory terms, slurs or profanity to express his opinion. Now, as a businessman who wants sponsorships for The Sports Inquirer, I can see the UFC not being happy with these comments because it’s a sensitive topic but I haven’t heard too much from sponsors having issues.
In the end, you have to accept the good and bad when you give somebody an open microphone in public.
Those are my thoughts, what are yours?