LAS VEGAS — On the night of UFC 189, when Conor McGregor was fighting Chad Mendes for the UFC interim championship in Las Vegas, Jose Aldo was at a friend's house.
He was not watching the fight.
Instead, Aldo was watching his favorite soccer club play. Thousands of miles away, in the heat of the Las Vegas desert, a major bout was unfolding that would determine a potentially gigantic payday for the UFC featherweight champion, and Aldo didn't care. He was so confident that McGregor would win that he did not feel the need to watch.
"I don't care about what he's doing," Aldo said with a laugh. "But I know if Chad had been able to train for the fight, it would be totally different."
After the bout concluded, after McGregor knocked out Mendes to capture the interim version of Aldo's title, he began receiving calls from friends who had seen the fight.
"They told me, 'You're going to kill this guy for sure,'" Aldo said.
Aldo will eventually watch the bout as part of his training. Today, he is in Las Vegas to meet the media and film promotional spots for his UFC 194 bout against McGregor.
It is the most anticipated fight of the year. Prior to the media session, UFC public relations staffers relayed an embargo to media in attendance, saying that even Aldo's presence here must be kept secret until Wednesday at 3 p.m.
It seems as though someone did not want McGregor to know Aldo was there, perhaps because being confronted with such a surprise would generate an interesting and honest reaction from the Irish superstar and, if everything goes according to plan, another of the intense interactions the two have become known for.
It has been a whirlwind few months for the champion, beginning first with the broken rib that knocked him out of the UFC 189 bout in the first place.
The injury kicked off a war of words between Aldo and UFC President Dana White. Aldo's camp said the rib was broken; White—perhaps to lay public blame on Aldo for pulling out of the fight—said it was merely a bruised rib. Aldo's camp provided MRIs that clearly showed a break; White said the results were X-rays and were from an old injury (despite MRIs and X-rays being totally different things).
Aldo said he wanted to fight so badly that he underwent PRP (platelet-rich plasma) treatment, having a huge needle inject his own blood into the injured area. But the pain was too great. McGregor and White both downplayed the severity of the injury publicly, but Aldo and his team knew how much pain he was in.
"I don't care about what he said. For me, he's just a joker," Aldo said. "I was like a baby in my bed because I couldn't move. I needed help from my wife and my friends to move my body."
And then there was the press conference in Brazil, when Aldo made himself the center of another controversy by bashing the UFC's new USADA-led drug testing program and, in particular, the ban on the usage of IVs to rehydrate after weigh-ins. Aldo stated that he was going to continue using IVs because, in the end, what could USADA do about it?
Trainer Andre Pederneiras, who accompanied Aldo to Vegas, said that Aldo was joking about continuing to use IVs and that the reporters at the press conference presented it as if he were being serious.
"Everybody knows they have rules, and you see the rules and do exactly what you're supposed to do," Pederneiras says. "Giovani Decker (the UFC's general manager of Brazilian operations) was in the meeting and saw everything. He knows he was just joking."
Pederneiras said that Aldo uses IVs to rehydrate, but that it is not a requirement. For the past three years, Aldo has used IVs, administered by a doctor hired by the trainer. But Pederneiras believes it is much easier for Aldo to make weight without the usage of IVs than it is for McGregor.
"I think it's much harder for Conor to make the weight and not have an IV than it is for Aldo. Aldo cuts 15 pounds. How much does Conor cut? For sure, it's terrible for him and not terrible for Aldo," he said.
The trainer also said he'd like to see cameras positioned on both Aldo and McGregor for 24 hours after the weigh-ins.
"I know (Aldo) won't do the IV for sure, because he doesn't need that. But I don't know Conor," Pederneiras said. "How can he make the weight back without the IV? He probably cuts like 30 pounds, and Aldo just 15. Who needs the IV more, Aldo or Conor?"
Despite the bad blood between Aldo and McGregor, there is a certain level of appreciation from the featherweight champion for his opponent. Aldo is not interested in participating in another World Tour to promote the fight; the last one was mentally and physically draining. He'll shoot a commercial and conduct interviews but scoffs at the idea of taking an extended period of time on the road to promote the fight. He said that the tour was one of the worst things he's ever had to do in mixed martial arts.
"For sure. You're eating bad. Living bad. You sleep in one city and wake up in another," Aldo said. The only bright spot? Getting to attend the Brazil vs. Chile match.
Despite the bad blood—and there is plenty—Aldo conceded that McGregor brings positive things to the sport. More specifically, he brings good things to Aldo's bank account.
"I don't know if he's good for the sport. But for me, he's good," Aldo said. "I want to see more Conors come to my weight class, to talk too much. Because it puts a lot of money in my pocket."
The perfect scenario for UFC 194's main event, he said, is a win, no matter how it comes. But when pressed, he said that finishing McGregor quickly, perhaps in the first round, and then going home is the ideal scenario.
Surprisingly, Aldo also admitted that he hopes to face McGregor more than one time, mostly for the financial windfall.
"I prefer that it happen more times, because it puts more money in my pocket," he said. "I am going to go inside the ring and beat this guy. If it happens again, it's good, because you saw what happened with [Chael] Sonnen and Anderson Silva. If that happens again for me, it's good."
Jeremy Botter covers mixed martial arts for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter.