The UFC featherweight champion has a lot to lose, especially since McGregor knows that Aldo has a bruised rib and will likely target that area in the main event bout July 11. However, UFC on FOX analyst Brian Stann told MMAFighting.com that Aldo likely has even more to gain.
"I think he makes the walk based on the financial impact alone," Stann said. "Here's the positive things for Jose Aldo going into this fight: This fight is going to make him an awful lot of money -- win, lose or draw. He's the only featherweight champion in history. I think he merits, no matter what, an immediate rematch if he were to lose this fight. For him, he takes the fight, there's already a built-in thing where if the performance is terrible people are going to point to the ribs first. And there's great build-up for a rematch and he'll get another great payday."
Stann said he's never had a rib injury like Aldo's, but he knows from past training partners that they can be very painful and long-lasting. Aldo will likely be in pain during grappling and wrestling exchanges and also a target on the feet.
"It's a very difficult thing to deal with in the fact that once you're hit there and it starts hurting again, you're constantly starting to guard it, which creates openings in other areas of your defense," Stann said. "It's a big deal."
So is the fact that it got out. Globo, the Brazilian media outlet, reported Tuesday that Aldo was injured and news trickled out about a potential cracked rib from there. The UFC said in a statement Wednesday that it wasn't a fracture, only a bruise and some injured cartilage. Aldo is going to give it a go, but if he can't make it to the Octagon, the UFC has Chad Mendes on standby. McGregor would meet him in an interim title bout.
"This is a lesson for fighters, training camps, coaches, managers: You gotta keep your mouth shut," Stann said. "Someone really let him down in this fight. I've seen this happen before, never in such a high-profile fight. I don't know who it was. It's not indicative of the type of environment that Nova Uniao provides. It could happen anywhere, but someone really let him down that should have kept their mouth shut."
On the other side of things, Stann sees a tough situation for McGregor, too. The challenger won't know who he's actually facing until the 11th hour. Stann believes McGregor would have the advantage over both in a way, though, because the fight is coming up so quickly and Mendes has not been preparing for a five-round, championship fight.
"You don't walk in on three weeks notice and you're in that kind of a shape for a five-round fight like he was when he fought Jose Aldo the second time," Stann said. "Because of that, Conor McGregor still pulls confidence from that matchup too."
Stann actually thought Frankie Edgar, not Mendes, should have gotten the call to be Aldo's understudy. Either way, Stann thinks Aldo will fight -- and win. The former U.S. Marine believes that Aldo's upbringing in the jungles of Manaus and the streets of Rio de Janeiro give him an inherent edge over almost anyone.
"He came into this supposing that he lost in life," Stann said. "And that matters. Backgrounds like that allow fighters to dig into the depths of themselves and overcome certain things in the Octagon.
"That's the X-factor on why I thought Jose Aldo would come out the victor here."
Even with the injury. Stann thinks if Aldo is able to pull this through it will cement him as a cult hero in the annals of MMA.
"If he wins, coupled with this, you're talking about the legacy of a guy who's already gotten an incredible one," Stann said. "He's a guy who -- and I've called two of his fights now -- I think is the most skilled fighter on the planet when you encapsulate all the areas. He's the guy whose legend grows to what we saw with B.J. Penn. When B.J. Penn was in his prime, people were just in awe of him."