MMA’s What If: Jose Aldo Defeated Conor McGregor at UFC 194

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In a new series for the MMASucka channel, we look at alternative outcomes to major happenings within the world of MMA. As we know, fights can turn in just seconds and we look at the outcomes if this happened in specific situations.

In this piece, we look at what the outcome could have been if Jose Aldo had slipped Conor Mcgregor‘s left hand and gone on to win the fight.
Take a look at our first two pieces on Ronda Rousey and Demetrious Johnson for some interesting insight on another pair of MMA’s what-ifs!

MMA’s What If: Jose Aldo Defeated Conor McGregor at UFC 194

What Really Happened

In what is arguably one of the biggest, best promoted, highly anticipated fights in UFC history, UFC 194‘s main event saw long-time featherweight champion, Jose Aldo square off against brash Irishman, Conor McGregor. The two men were scheduled to compete at UFC 189, however, Aldo had to withdraw from the bout with an injury. This lead to an interim title fight between McGregor and former two-time title challenger, Chad Mendes.
Overcoming adversity in the fight, ‘The Notorious’ captured the interim strap in the second round via TKO. This victory set up a fight for the undisputed strap against the Brazillian, Aldo at UFC 194.

LAS VEGAS, NV – JULY 11: (L-R) Conor McGregor punches Chad Mendes in their UFC interim featherweight title fight during the UFC 189 event inside MGM Grand Garden Arena on July 11, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

What played out saw McGregor utilise his mind games, leading to a 14 second knockout of Aldo. In what was the biggest moment in UFC history at the time, the Irishman captured the title, ending a 10-year undefeated streak for Aldo. It shot him into the stratosphere, cemented him as the biggest star in the sport and defined his legacy at featherweight.

Conor McGregor would go on to capture the lightweight belt and become the promotion’s first ‘champ champ’, making history again within the company.

What Could Have Happened

In an alternative universe, Jose Aldo, using his experience would not have let McGregor get into his head and therefore not rush in and get caught with McGregor’s left. He would use his superior speed and well-rounded game to catch McGregor.

With arguably the best leg kicks in the game, Aldo would chop away at the base of McGregor, limiting his movement and causing him to become flat-footed. We saw flaws in his wrestling game against Mendes and Aldo could utilise this as well as leaning on his BJJ black belt. Wearing on McGregor for the first three rounds, the superior experience of Aldo over five rounds (he had gone five rounds six times in his previous nine fights) would begin to take its toll on McGregor. What we didn’t know at the time (as the Irishman had finished all but one of his UFC opponents inside the distance) is that McGregor had cardio issues.

Aldo would have worn McGregor out and finished him late in the fight, ending the rivalry in dramatic fashion and cementing his legacy as the featherweight GOAT.

What an Aldo Win Would Mean

A Jose Aldo win over Conor McGregor at UFC 194 would have huge, huge implications for the UFC going forwards. It would impact Nate DiazKhabib Nurmagomedov (and the entire UFC 223 card), Floyd Mayweather and the promotion as a whole.

  • Conor McGregor wouldn’t be the star he is today if he’d been dominated by Jose Aldo. If it was a close decision victory for the Brazillian then yes, McGregor likey gets a rematch. However, if he was dominated, there is little call for a repeat. McGregor would likely stick around at featherweight in order to try and ‘get that one back, however, as we know, his weight cuts to 145lbs were brutal and took a toll on his body. If he had lost, you have to ask the question, would he move up to lightweight and become a contender? The move up in weight would likely happen, however, it’s unlikely that he slots straight into a title shot.
  • Nate Diaz wouldn’t become one of the biggest names in the sport had Aldo defeated McGregor. Although he’s always been a draw, Diaz shot to fame when he defeated McGregor on short notice at UFC 196. It made him a household name, allowed him to call the shots and arguably set him up for life going forwards. Off the back of the two McGregor fights, he’s headlined at Madison Square Garden against Jorge Masvidal. This is unlikely to have happened if he never faced McGregor and became the first man in the UFC to beat him.

LAS VEGAS, NV – MARCH 5: Nate Diaz (top) submits Conor McGregor in their welterweight bout during the UFC 196 in the MGM Grand Garden Arena on March 5, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

  • Khabib Nurmagomedov would not be the household name or the huge star that he is today without his rivalry with McGregor. It all started at UFC 205 when McGregor defeated Eddie Alvarez to become the lightweight champion. Khabib was calling for a fight with ‘your boy’ [Directed at Dana White talking about Mcgregor] whilst in a fight himself. The two would come to blows at UFC 223 with the infamous ‘Dolly bus attack‘ which lead to two fighters being pulled from the event due to injuries. The two would conclude their rivalry with a Nurmagomedov win at UFC 229, the biggest selling event in UFC history.
  • The infamous ‘money fight’ with 49-0 boxer, Floyd Mayweather would likely have never gone ahead if McGregor was to lose to Aldo. He became the biggest star in the sport of MMA having captured two belts simultaneously. Would McGregor be such a big name if he had failed before he succeeded at capturing gold? The thing that tempted Mayweather out of retirement was the trash-talking, self-belief of McGregor that he could beat ‘TBE’. If he’d suffered a knockout against Aldo, would he still have the self-belief or would he have crippling doubts about his ability?
  • The ‘champ champ’ trend may never have come to fruition if McGregor hadn’t paved the way at UFC 194 and UFC 205. Daniel CormierAmanda Nunes and Henry Cejudo all became two-weight world champions at the same time after McGregor did it. Would it have happened if Conor McGregor hadn’t done it first or would they just have to vacate their original belt to move up in weight and compete?

Ultimately we can see how big an impact ‘that’ left hand that landed on Jose Aldo’s chin at the hands of Conor McGregor had. It would have changed the careers of many people further down the line and altered the face of the UFC forever.

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Frazer Krohn has been with MMASucka for nearly 5 years. He is the host of the MMASucka podcast, which is released every Monday. He's the author of a series of six books about MMA, which were published in 2023.

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