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Jose Aldo says Conor McGregor rematch ‘highly likely’ for Madison Square Garden

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

RIO DE JANEIRO -- Jose Aldo expects to unify the UFC featherweight championship on Nov. 12. But he believes he’s only fighting Conor McGregor in New York if "The Notorious" loses to Nate Diaz on Aug. 20.

McGregor was given a chance to avenge his first loss inside the Octagon in a welterweight rematch with Diaz at UFC 202, and Aldo believes that a win by the Irishman in Las Vegas would prevent them from fighting each other at UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden.

"If he loses (to Diaz), it’s highly likely that they put us to fight on November 12, at Madison Square Garden. The Irish community is big over there," Aldo told the media during a media scrum in Rio de Janeiro. "But if he wins, I think they will do a third fight between them and ruin all my plans."

Aldo, who became the interim champion after defeating Frankie Edgar via unanimous decision at UFC 200, picks Diaz to beat his archrival at UFC 202.

"If I had to bet, it would be Nate again," he said. "From what I saw he’s way bigger, stronger, and he’s training. He got that fight on short notice and still was able to win. Well trained, it’s really hard for McGregor. If you look at (Diaz’s) fights, even when he’s getting beat, he finds a way to come back. If I had to bet, it would be Nate."

Dana White guaranteed that McGregor would return to featherweight regardless of the result at UFC 202, and Aldo believes the UFC president. However, Aldo hopes McGregor loses anyway only to avoid another change of plans.

"No, no. He has to lose. Otherwise, they will do a third fight," Aldo said. "I’m rooting for him to lose, of course. If he wins, they will do another rematch with Nate, and that’s bad. He has to lose. He has to lose. He will lose."

If McGregor never comes back to 145 pounds, Aldo believes Max Holloway is next in line for a shot at the gold -- and he’s still hoping to be part of UFC 205.

"Then I’m f---ed," Aldo said he McGregor never coming back to featherweight. "But I really hope it happens. If it’s a fight against Holloway, I don’t see any problem. This event in New York will make history. I really hope I’m at this card because I want to be part of history."