For a fighter who is looking for a bigger piece of the pie, Jose Aldo sure isn’t doing himself any favors these days.

The UFC featherweight champion had just come out of one of his most challenging title defenses in years at UFC 179. He’d defeated Chad Mendes for the second time, retaining his featherweight belt and remaining the sole Brazilian champion currently in the UFC. It was a huge win, and did wonders for Aldo in terms of silencing some of his critics, as far as coasting to victory in recent fights is concerned.

In short, a great performance in a solid fight, one of the best Aldo fights of the past few years.

And there, after the fight, set up to perfection, was a chance to promote a future battle, a blood feud if you will. Aldo was asked in the octagon about who he would fight next. With Conor McGregor taunting the crowd and repeatedly saying he would defeat Aldo at a public Q&A in Brazil Friday, to the point of death chants being hurled against him, all Aldo had to do was utter the Irishman’s name — and he failed. Instead, he said he would fight “anyone the UFC puts in front of me.” While he did reference McGregor immediately after, saying in regards to the featherweight division that “I am the king, Chad’s the prince, and there is a joker now,” it was a blown opportunity, especially considering that in his own post-fight interview, runner-up Chad Mendes went right ahead and did what Aldo would not, calling out the Notorious one.

It’s telling that after the card’s end, it was McGregor who was showcased, who had his highlight reel played. Dana White has confirmed that with a win over Dennis Siver in January, McGregor will likely get a title shot. What’s more telling — and concerning, really — is Aldo’s inability to strike while the iron is hot, at least when he’s not fighting. For an athlete who has continually told the press that he feels he is not paid what he is worth, he seems to be his own worst enemy, refusing to set up big fights. While he showed signs of finally learning the promotion game to some extent leading up to UFC 179, writing a scathing open letter to Mendes in the build-up to the event, he has a long way to go. Saying “I’ll fight anyone” may be true, and may be respectful, but Aldo needs to break with his traditional approach if he really wants to make bank.

Speaking to Combate prior to UFC 179, Aldo was quoted as saying that “We always try to give the best of us in training to go in the cage and have a good performance, thus giving millions for the company. We also want to have part of these millions.” Fair enough, but once you’ve signed a contract with the promotion, the money is more or less set in stone (performance bonuses aside), with one exception: PPV dollars.

That is where a little self-promotion could go a long way for Aldo. The UFC is taking a bit of a gamble by having McGregor face off against Siver. Siver is far from a can, and while McGregor will enter the fight as the favorite, upsets can and do happen. If McGregor were to lose, it would not only blow his momentum, it would likely put the kibosh on the biggest potential pay-day Aldo has had to date. The featherweight champion could have forced the UFC’s hand by demanding McGregor next — stranger things have happened. Most fans would accept it, given McGregor’s ability to promote (exactly what Aldo lacks), and his four-fight UFC win streak.

Instead, while Aldo heals up from a hard-fought, frankly painful win over Chad Mendes, McGregor will take the Siver fight to stay active, and risk the entire potential clash between the champion and the brash Irish fighter going up in smoke. Perhaps that would teach Aldo to be a little more aggressive in his promoting, but it would be a disaster for fans, even if Cub Swanson (to name just one name) is more deserving of a title shot at the moment, based solely on accomplishments in the octagon.

About The Author

Senior Staff Writer

Covering the sport of MMA from Ontario, Canada, Jay Anderson has been writing for various publications covering sports, technology, and pop culture since 2001. Jay holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Guelph, and a Certificate in Leadership Skills from Humber College under the Ontario Management Development Program. When not slaving at the keyboard, he can be found in the company of his dog, a good book, or getting lost in the woods.