Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White, flanked by his 145-pound Golden Goose, Conor McGregor, was featured on ESPN earlier this evening to announce that Featherweight champion, Jose Aldo, has withdrawn from UFC 189's main event.
It didn't come as a tremendous shock -- the Brazilian's status was uncertain for more than one week. Unfortunately, Aldo and his team did not think he would be in good enough shape to defend his world title inside MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, on July 11, 2015.
And with him unable to return to action until possibly Oct. 2015, UFC made a decision to replace him with Chad Mendes in the pay-per-view (PPV)'s featured attraction, as well as anoint it a showdown for the division's interim strap.
White explains the thought process and his feelings about the shake up:
"Jose Aldo has pulled out of five title fights. Conor is ready to go, the No. 1 guy in the world, Mendes, is ready to go so it makes sense that they fight for the interim title. Whenever Jose Aldo is ready we can make the fight to unify [the belts]. It was his decision [to pull out of the fight]. We don’t feel great about it — we spent a lot of money promoting that fight, a lot of people were anticipating that fight. It’s definitely disappointing."
Aldo is UFC's longest reigning world champion, defending his belt seven times since April 2011, which was when the promotion first introduced the weight class. Indeed, "Scarface" is the only champion the division has ever known, but that's all about to change inside a fortnight.
Andre Pederneiras, Aldo's head trainer, weighed in on that precise matter late last week:
"UFC is a private company and they make the decision that is better for the company. Aldo fought in October, nine months ago. The majority of the champions who didn't fight for any reason were out longer and they didn't create an interim title. I don't think it's cool, but it's a private company."
Indeed, it wouldn't be the first time Aldo was injured in training and didn't "rush back" prematurely to avoid the creation of an interim title.
Probably because he wasn't paired opposite UFC's hottest star not named Ronda Rousey.