It came as a surprise to some when Conor McGregor congratulated ex-rival Jose Aldo after his stunning TKO win over Jeremy Stephens at UFC on FOX 30, telling TMZ Sports that ‘the whole of Ireland was happy for Jose Aldo that night.”
But it didn’t shock Aldo’s longtime coach and mentor, Andre Pederneiras, who told the media in Brazil that McGregor is always ‘super respectful’ backstage, despite the Irishman’s often controversial theatrics onstage.
”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, per MMA Fighting’s Guilherme Cruz. “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 sh*t [laughs], 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.”
Following his big win over Stephens, which snapped a two-fight losing streak to Max Holloway, Aldo teased of a ‘big fight’ at lightweight, leading fans to speculate that the Brazilian is still interested in a rematch with McGregor.
Pederneiras, 51, believes the first fight ‘didn’t represent’ Aldo’s true talent as a fighter and would like to see his prized student rematch ‘The Notorious’ in the near-future. McGregor KO’d Aldo in just thirteen seconds at UFC 194, becoming the first man to beat ‘Scarface’ in ten years and hand the former champ his first loss inside the Octagon.
”The first fight didn’t represent what the fight really could be, and that’s unfortunate for everyone who wanted to watch it,” Pederneiras said, “so I would choose Conor even though I have nothing against him. I know there’s a good person behind that artist and it doesn’t represent what he says. He says a bunch of crap to get attention and sell.”
Speaking of McGregor’s highly anticipated fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229, where the SBG Ireland product will look to reclaim his lightweight title and cement his position as the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world, Pederneiras believes McGregor is at a physical disadvantage against Nurmagomedov but should not be counted out.
”Man, I’ll tell you this, Conor is someone you can’t underestimate,” Pederneiras said. “He has done things I didn’t believe he could do, so I think it’s 50-50, but the physical advantage for Khabib is too big. I see the stand-up fight being too dangerous for Khabib, depending on how long it takes for him to taking the fight to the ground. But if he takes the fight to the ground quickly, his chances increase a lot.”
UFC 229: Khabib vs. McGregor takes place on October 6 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.