José Aldo believes Conor McGregor can return to true form and compete again once he recovers from the leg injury he suffered in his fight with Dustin Poirier at UFC 264 last month.
The former two-division champion broke the tibia and fibula in his left leg after awkwardly planting his foot on the canvas in the final seconds of the first round. McGregor underwent a three-hour surgery to repair it and is expected to make a full recovery, which leaves the door open for his eventual return. Aldo wants to see that happen.
Speaking to Carlos Antunes of Ag. Fight recently, Aldo was asked to share a few thoughts on his former opponent and his most recent performance. Aldo and McGregor fought at UFC 194, where the former was knocked out by the latter in just 13 seconds following a contentious build-up between the then-featherweight fighters. In spite of their shared history, Aldo was admittedly upset about the way the Poirier fight ended for McGregor.
“First of all, I’m upset with the injury,” said Aldo (translated by Guilherme Cruz of MMA Fighting). “It’s quite hard, we work with our body, we try to keep it healthy because that way we can always be working.
“I think he can [get back to fighting at a high level]. I never doubt the champions, the mind and willpower of the champions. He was dominating before and was the lightweight and featherweight champion. It’s all up to him. If he wants to come back at a high level, he can do it.”
Aldo went on to praise McGregor for what he was able to do against Poirier before the injury occurred. He then reiterated his support for the “Notorious” one and his return to the Octagon, which is unlikely to take place until sometime next year.
“The fight was going well especially because Conor forgot [his promotional] side and tried to be the fighter and win until that leg situation happened,” said Aldo. “But, man, I think it’s up to him [to return]. If he wants to come back again, he will work hard, abdicate from certain things to get there, dedicate himself and go back to the winning path.”
Aldo, meanwhile, has made the move from featherweight to bantamweight in recent years, going 1-2 since the change in weight class. He lost back-to-back fights to Marlon Moraes and Petr Yan before earning a win over Marlon “Chito” Vera in his previous outing at UFC Fight Night: Thompson vs. Neal last December. He is now scheduled to fight Pedro Munhoz in the co-main event of UFC 265 this weekend.