It’s completely unthinkable that a great fighter’s legacy could come down to a 13-second highlight, but here we are.
The whole idea is complete nonsense. A narrative fiction propagated by trolls; a few seconds of an athletes career spun out into a web that threatens to envelop all his other achievements. Which also means it may not be wrong.
Because that’s the trouble with a ‘legacy’. It isn’t defined by what you did so much as its defined by what people remember you doing. And at least in the moment, the thing a lot of people seem to remember most about Jose Aldo is him getting knocked out by Conor McGregor at UFC 194. Joe Rogan put words to the thought on a recent episode of his Fight Companion Podcast, discussing Aldo’s legacy right now (transcript via MMA Fighting).
“Aldo’s legacy and his reign is always gonna be tarnished by that 13 seconds against McGregor. Which is so crazy because you take away that fight and he’s got one brutal war with Chad Mendes where he got rocked and stunned, which is a tough fight – the second one – great fight. And those are the only hard moments he’s had inside the octagon other than maybe round five against Ricardo Lamas. Lamas had him down and was doing a little bit of ground and pound in the fifth round and that was Aldo was too drained making that weight, but he’s smaller now. He generally looks smaller. He definitely chose to slim down because he was having unbelievably brutal weight cuts early in his career. He was just too big for the weight class so he just chose to slim his body down.”
Of course, Aldo has since regained his featherweight title in the months following the McGregor loss. McGregor’s departure for the lightweight division (and superfights beyond) saw Aldo promoted from interim champion to undisputed title holder. He’s now set do defend his new belt for the first time against Max Holloway, this weekend at UFC 212 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
And while a bout with Holloway may not remove the stain entirely (especially for a specific brand of McGregor faithful), “always” is a long time. If Aldo can put on a stellar performance against the young top contender he may go a long way to undoing the damage that those 13 seconds have done to his reputation.