After dedicating a few months in the first quarter of 2015 toward Jose Aldo vs. Conor McGregor at UFC 189, only to follow it up with two weeks of disappointment when Aldo pulled out, the fight we’ve been looking forward to is finally here.
At this point, it shouldn’t matter if you think Aldo will continue on with his championship reign or if McGregor will finally capture an interim-less crown of his own — UFC 194’s main event should offer a viable bout to meet what hype we’ve collectively created for it.
And so we gather our MMA writers for the latest roundtable, this time focusing on the biggest pay-per-view of 2015.
By this time next month, the UFC could very well have four new champions on its hands. What challenger do you think stands the best chance of dethroning the titleholder?
Riley Kontek: I think the challenger with the best chance to dethrone the titleholder in their division is Donald Cerrone. A focused Cerrone is a dangerous Cerrone. When he wasn’t focused a year or two ago, he didn’t look he should be carrying the top fighter’s gym bags. Now, focused, he looks like the tough wrecker that we know him to be. If he can continue to fight that way, I think he has a chance to take the belt from Rafael dos Anjos.
Go Paolo: I think each challenger has a very realistic chance of unseating the current champions. Luke Rockhold has the ability to finish Weidman both on his feet and on the ground and he trains with Daniel Cormier and Cain Velasquez. Conor McGregor is actually the favorite to beat Aldo. He’s a bad matchup for the all-time great as he has a better chin, longer reach and more power in his fists. Donald Cerrone is the biggest underdog of the four challengers and already lost to Rafael dos Anjos earlier, but he is an entirely different fighter now who may be getting over the hump. It’s also worth noting he was beginning to win the fight down the stretch against dos Anjos. Carlos Condit will beat Robbie Lawler. He has never lost a striking battle in the UFC and Lawler isn’t going to wrestle him.
Jordy McElroy: It’s more likely to be red panty night at the Rockhold household than McGregor’s after UFC 194. This certainly doesn’t mean that I don’t like McGregor’s chances against Aldo. I feel it’s a favorable style matchup for the Irishman, and fans expecting to see Aldo wipe the floor with him could be in for a surprise come fight night.
But I won’t disrespect the great Jose Aldo by picking him as the most likely champion to be dethroned. This man hasn’t lost a fight since Will Smith’s last album. It’s more likely that trend continues, but I still expect both challengers to give the champions a real scare on Saturday night.
Dan Hiergesell: Despite the surging momentum possessed by Donald Cerrone entering a rematch with lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos at UFC on Fox 17, Conor McGregor is the most likely contender to dethrone a current UFC titleholder.
Fill in the blank: Jose Aldo vs. Conor McGregor taking place Saturday has you feeling _____.
RK: Jose Aldo vs. Conor McGregor being just a few days away has me feeling giddy. I have been waiting for the talk to be over and the first to fly for a while. Do I think Aldo will be beat? No, I think he’s a top three overall fighter in the world. Am I interested to see if McGregor can back up his words? Absolutely. That’s what creates big fights and brings in pay-per-view revenue.
GP: Almost relieved. The one-year build-up, the delay and the non-stop flow of media on them has been quite exhausting. The fight is only nights away but I am still very nervous. Usually though, feelings of anxiety usually leads to a fantastic fight card and overall week of fights.
JM: Like a fat kid in a candy store.
People often overlook the technical aspects of the actual fight due to all of the outside drama surrounding it. Yeah, we get it. McGregor and Aldo have been serving up intense staredowns and memorable press conference trash talking sessions for several months now. The drama has been so intense that it’s easy to forget that this is superb matchmaking.
Aldo’s beautiful countering style against McGregor’s aggressive southpaw tactics makes for quite an entertaining showdown. Bring on the candy!
Could anything that happens at UFC 194 be more shocking than what happened at UFC 193?
RK: I don’t think anything at UFC 194 could be more shocking that what happened when Holly Holm dethroned Ronda Rousey at UFC 193. The only way I would be more shocked is if Conor McGregor knocked out Jose Aldo with a tornado kick or locked him in a fight-ending twister. Otherwise, nothing could be more shocking than the brutal upset of Rousey last month.
GP: I would like to say yes, but I don’t think anything will top Holly Holm’s destruction of Ronda Rousey. Not to say UFC 194 won’t be memorable at all, it will be but for different reasons. We have a chance to see two of the greatest title fights ever on top of having a very talent-rich card where eye-popping, highlight-reel finishes may be a theme of the night.
JM: Perhaps the only thing more shocking than seeing Ronda Rousey knocked unconscious by the biggest underdog in MMA history would be Chael Sonnen repelling down from the rafters and cashing in his briefcase to fight the winner of Weidman and Rockhold.
It would certainly be surprising to see McGregor make good on his prediction and knock out Aldo in the first round. From the standpoint of a hardcore MMA fan, it would actually be more shocking than Holm’s victory. But on paper, Holm’s win over Rousey ranks as the biggest upset in MMA history.
Good luck topping that.
DH: Nothing can quite stack up against Holly Holm’s spectacular knockout of Ronda Rousey at UFC 193. But with so many close-knit contests on the docket for UFC 194 on Dec. 12, we could see something at least come close in shock value.