MMA fighting styles

Conor McGregor coach impressed with Jose Aldo’s resurgence at the end of his career: “He looks like a champion batsman”

For better or worse, Jose Aldo and Conor McGregor will always be inextricably linked due to the rivalry they shared early in McGregor’s UFC career.

Aldo and McGregor ignited the featherweight division with their multi-year journey to UFC 194, which ultimately saw the two collide with one of the most anticipated events in sports history. McGregor memorably won by 13-second knockout and he and Aldo eventually went their separate ways, but six years later, at the age of 35, Aldo surprised many in the MMA world with a resurgence at 135 pounds. The Brazilian legend has won three consecutive fights after beating Rob Font and is getting closer to another title shot.

And longtime McGregor’s head coach, SBG Ireland boss John Kavanagh can’t help but marvel at what his team’s former rival is accomplishing 17 years after starting his career as a MMA.

“I’m sure I talked about it a lot at the time, but looking back I was a huge fan of WEC,” Kavanagh said recently on MMA time. “And if you’re a WEC fan, you’re obsessed with Aldo. Just like he – he was the first one that I really saw, a hitting based MMA guy who just broke the grapplers. So I was trying to learn a lot from what he was doing. And even going back further than that, his incredible coach ‘Dédé’ [Andre Pederneiras], I watched it in the days of pride.

“So there was no one who was a bigger fan of this team and Aldo in particular than me. And before that [UFC 194] fight, I spent many sleepless nights watching those leg kicks and ground defense, speed, technique and experience. And I regretted the unfolding of the fight a little, because I would have loved to see the clash of styles and even more exchanges.

Aldo remains one of the greatest MMA technicians to ever compete, but he had a hard time following his loss to McGregor in 2015. At one point, the former UFC featherweight champion fell into a fit. which saw him lose five of seven appearances in the Octagon, three of which he lost by brutal knockouts, culminating in a 2020 title loss to current interim UFC bantamweight champion Petr Yan.

Aldo recently admitted to MMA Fighting that he had considered retiring during this difficult time in his career, but training with the Brazilian Navy became the spark that helped him rediscover his passion for the MMA. Since then, Aldo has reappeared as the dominant force, winning three consecutive fights against Marlon Vera, Pedro Munhoz and Font, and rising to sixth place at 135 pounds in the MMA Fighting World Rankings.

Lately, Aldo called for a potential title fight against former champion TJ Dillashaw. If he got it and won, he would likely be the next man to compete for the UFC belt.

And Kavanagh has said he and McGregor will be part of the Aldo squad if that moment comes along.

“Look what Aldo did,” Kavanagh marveled. “He came back completely invigorated at 135 and he looks world class. He looks like a champion batsman. And if he gets that fight against Dillashaw, I think we’ll really see how far he’s come since then.

“I’m sure Conor would love to see him, and I would definitely love to see him put his hand up and have that belt at 135.”