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Jose Aldo’s coach, teammates praise Conor McGregor’s performance against Floyd Mayweather

Esther Lin, Showtime Sports

RIO DE JANEIRO — Conor McGregor is getting some love from Brazilian fighters.

“The Notorious” made history Saturday, stepping into the boxing ring to face 49-0 Floyd Mayweather in a 12-round match, losing in the 10th round. His longtime rival Jose Aldo didn’t seem much impressed right after the fight, but his Nova Uniao teammates saw it differently.

“If I told you I didn’t think Conor had any chance I’d by lying,” Nova Uniao leader Andre Pederneiras said after Shooto Brazil 74. “I thought he had a chance in the first two rounds if one hand landed and rocked (Mayweather), but I knew that if it went past that it would be over because he doesn’t have the experience. When (Mayweather) got his hands up and forced McGregor to throw several punches in his guard, the fight was over. He ‘ate' (McGregor’s) cardio.”

UFC middleweight Thales Leites, who also trains at Nova Uniao in Rio de Janeiro, agrees with Pederneiras. Like his coach, Leites only gave McGregor a chance to win in the first two rounds before the fight started.

“It was a good fight,” Leites said. “What surprised me was that Conor fought well. He won the first three rounds. We expected (Mayweather) to win, but he lasted long and fought hard. He did what everyone wants, he got his lottery ticket and made a lot of money.

“I thought Floyd would knock him out earlier, in the fifth or sixth round, but Floyd is not wrong. He’s 40, hasn’t fought since 2015, so Floyd had everything to lose. He fought smart. I don’t understand much about boxing, but I didn’t see him connect any hard punch to knock him out. He was touching and touching him until (McGregor) couldn’t take it anymore because he gassed.”

Felipe Olivieri, a former UFC lightweight, only gave McGregor a 0.1 percent chance prior to the boxing match, and was surprised with the Irishman’s timing and distance.

“He surprised me more than I expected,” Olivieri said. “We know that the cardio for MMA is different than for other martial arts, but he fought well. He won three or four rounds. The only thing that would have made the show better was the stoppage, but that’s how it works in boxing. But congratulations to McGregor, he showed he has a good boxing and that MMA fighters can hang with other sports."

For Pederneiras and Leites, McGregor can consider the a moral victory after going 10 rounds with one of the best boxers of all times in his boxing debut.

“No doubt about it,” 'Dede' said. "Anyone who underrates Conor as a fighter is crazy. He has proven a long time ago that he’s a great fighter. (…) If you put Mayweather to fight 12 rounds (in MMA) against Conor, I don't think he goes past the first. He goes to his sport and lasts 10 rounds. I think Mayweather was the one who lost.“

“For sure, it was a victory for Conor,” Leites said. “He showed the strength of the MMA athlete, fighting for the title with a guy like this and going 10 rounds. It’s hard, maybe a boxer wouldn’t last three rounds in MMA. Everybody wins, especially Conor.”

Leonardo Santos, a TUF Brazil winner who is undefeated inside the Octagon, posted a meme with UFC president Dana White on Twitter, but clarified he wasn’t taking a shot at White or McGregor.

“I was not talking trash at my boss. I’m not stupid,” Santos said with a laugh. “What I said is that he looked pissed because he thought the fight wouldn’t be like that. He believed McGregor would win. But he fought well. To fight 10 rounds with a boxer? Congratulations to him. But going there and knocking Mayweather out would be too much luck [laughs].”

“(McGregor) fought well, but Mayweather is in there for millions of years, so it would be unfair to go there and finish a 49-0 guy,” he continued. “But I think he represented. He did his job. What actually surprised me is that he talked his way to this fight without even boxing before. The commission stops you from fighting if you’re making your debut with someone who has 10 fights, and they let McGregor fight. You have to congratulate him because no one beats him in the talking game."

The big question after Mayweather vs. McGregor for the MMA world is about “The Notorious’" future: will the UFC lightweight champion return to the Octagon after making so much money in the boxing ring? McGregor said he will, and Pederneiras hopes for it.

“Man, I actually want him to come back so we can base on his purse to ask more,” Pederneiras said. “He will ask a lot of money to fight.”

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