BOSTON — Listening to Conor McGregor speak, you’d think he was the one with the shiny championship belt on the table in front of him.
Jose Aldo, the reigning UFC featherweight champion, had the hardware Wednesday at the Strand Theater for part of the fighters’ UFC 189 world tour, but it’s McGregor who talks the talk. The “Notorious” Irishman made the crowd go wild nearly every time he spoke.
“I truly believe that if you see it in the mind and you truly believe in it, it will manifest from imagination into reality, and that is what has happened here,” McGregor said of his career. “Everything that happens began in the mind, so for me, of course I visualize this. I visualize this success. I visualize this belt. I visualize multiple belts. And now it is forming into my reality.”
While McGregor has the upper hand in his mind, Aldo’s no slouch. The stoic Brazilian took the stage amid a chorus of boos from the McGregor-loving crowd, but UFC president Dana White called Aldo “the baddest featherweight on the planet.” He’s on an 18-fight win streak and hasn’t been beaten in a UFC event in 10 years.
“He promotes fights. That’s what he does,” Aldo said of McGregor through a translator, adding, “The belt always stays in my house because I know it’s never going to leave there. He’s just another step in my career.”
What’s so interesting about these two fighters, who will square off for the featherweight title July 11 in Las Vegas, is that the underdog is the one who commands all of the attention. McGregor made his UFC debut in 2013, yet Aldo, who’s been fighting professionally since 2004, only is a slight favorite.
“It’s amazing when you think of how Conor burst onto the scene, he’s got five fights in the UFC, and I think Jose Aldo is -130. … It just goes to show what people think of Conor McGregor,” White said. “And the thing that’s most interesting about Conor … It’s what you don’t know. I mean, the guy went in and destroyed the (then) No. 5 guy in the world (Dustin Poirier) in the first round, and he said he would do it. When he did that, I was like, ‘Why would you say you’re going to knock — you’re setting yourself up,’ and he went and he did it.
“When you meet the greats, they have this way about them and they have this aura and this — when you sit down and you listen to them, it’s not bragging. They’re actually telling you how this is going to lay out.”
So who is White’s money on?
“Are you ready for the cheesy promoter answer? I think everybody wins in this fight.”
Thumbnail photo via Twitter/@UFC_UK