After early reports about Jose Aldo breaking a rib during training, his MMA odds for next month's title fight against Conor McGregor started shrinking – but only a little.
Something very strange is going on here. On Tuesday, the Twitterverse exploded over next month's Featherweight title fight between Jose Aldo and Conor McGregor at UFC 189. Very early reports had Aldo suffering a fractured rib in training. Oddly enough, as we go to press Wednesday, there has been no confirmation from UFC officials, nor from Aldo's camp. The July 11 fight is still on for now.
The UFC odds aren't waiting for confirmation. Aldo was a slim –117 favorite at Pinnacle on Monday; after the rumor mill started churning, the champion moved to –114, then –109. Similar adjustments were made at other books. How should we react with our UFC picks?
Millions of Dollars
Let's start with those reports. Right around lunchtime on Tuesday, Ana Hissa at Canal Combate tweeted that Aldo was injured during a sparring session, and that exams had confirmed a fractured rib. Ariel Helwani said about an hour later that Aldo had indeed been injured, but that the fight was still on at the moment. More details came out as time went on – none of them 100-percent confirmed. The closest thing we have to a timetable for recovery is 3-4 weeks, according to Guilherme Cruz at MMAFighting.
No wonder Dana White and his cohorts have yet to comment as we go to press. They've hyped up this main event fight like no other – White told MMAFighting that he expected over one million PPV buys, and that he'd need all those buys just to break even, given how much money they've spent to promote the fight. If Aldo can't go, whatever replacement fight the UFC arranges will presumably make a lot less money, even if McGregor is the bigger draw of the two.
Rub Some Dirt on It
For our purposes, this looks like a great time to put McGregor in our UFC picks, just in case this fight does go on as scheduled. Think back to the “other” Fight of the Century between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao; we didn't know it at the time, but Pacquiao suffered a shoulder injury in training, and his camp chose to cover it up rather than pull out of an eight- or nine-figure payday. Mayweather ended up beating Pacquiao without much trouble.
The stakes are a little lower this time, and we have foreknowledge (assuming everything's legit) about Aldo's injury. Still, the situation is congruent enough: Aldo likely won't be 100 percent by July 11, but it looks like there might be just enough time for him to heal up and make himself presentable in the Octagon. Would Aldo really risk his Featherweight title like that? Maybe. If he doesn't, and pulls out, that's fine – all monies returned.
We should mention that we were originally on Aldo here at the home office. However, it was a difficult choice. We've been McGregor fans for a while, making some sweet, sweet coin in his victories over Diego Brandao (+400) and Dennis Siver (+775). Our colleague Swinging Johnson has already picked McGregor to beat Aldo, and he's no dummy. Johnson also acknowledged that Aldo could make it difficult on McGregor if the fight goes into the championship rounds, which is foreign territory for the challenger.
This was all before the rib rumors nearly broke the Interwebs. It's entirely possible that things are being blown out of proportion, that Aldo isn't hurt too badly and will be fine by the time he shows up at the MGM Grand. But in a fight that's already something of a toss-up, we're essentially getting a free crack at exploiting Aldo's apparent rib injury, even with the slight adjustment in the UFC odds.
Free UFC Pick: Take McGregor +113 at Marathon