For a long time, there was no bigger rivalry in MMA than that of Conor McGregor and Jose Aldo. McGregor was the brash upstart fighting his way through the featherweight rankings. Aldo was the long established king of the division, riding a winning streak that extended back to 2006.
A world tour followed by a cancelled fight in July of 2015 only increased the apparent hatred between Aldo and McGregor, and it seems Jose has never quite gotten over that 13 second knockout at Conor’s hands when they finally fought at UFC 194. But according to Aldo’s coach Andre Pederneiras, everything you saw on Conor’s end was just a show to boost PPV sales. He pointed to McGregor’s recent kind words to Aldo following his UFC Calgary win over Jeremy Stephens as proof.
”I think Conor created this pejorative myth around him because of the things he says, but backstage he’s none of what he portrays himself to be to sell,” Pederneiras said during a media event at his Rio de Janeiro gym (via MMA Fighting). “Every time I met him he was super respectful, we shook hands, so it doesn’t surprise me that he had that reaction, especially now that he doesn’t have anything booked with Aldo.
“If he had something booked with Aldo he would say he was lucky, that he’s s**t, only to provoke. He’s a guy that had done things I can’t see anyone else doing. He’s unique in history, can’t say anything.”
Pederneiras went so far as to call McGregor an artist, which would make Conor’s bus attack incident with Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 223 a form of performance art.
”I know there’s a good person behind that artist and it doesn’t represent what he says,” the Brazilian declared. “He says a bunch of crap to get attention and sell. That’s him being the artist, in my opinion. He knows that he will have to fight Khabib, so since he has to do that, why not start the mess now and start promoting it?”
There’s certainly two sides to McGregor - the more calm and thoughtful Conor we witness from time to time and the ridiculous bombastic maniac that shows up in mink coats at press conferences. Whether the distinction between the two is as clear cut as Pederneiras thinks is something that remains to be seen, especially after a year where McGregor’s unstable behavior seems to have spiraled out of control.