Before Jose Aldo’s fight against Max Holloway this past weekend some unfortunate wisdom took a bit of center-stage thanks to someone who should have known better. The talk was that the longtime featherweight champion Jose Aldo’s legacy would be forever tarnished by his quick KO loss to Conor McGregor.
Now that Aldo has gone on to also get stopped by Holloway, the un-nuanced discussion of how “damaged” Aldo’s legacy may or may not be is sure to kick into over-drive. That’s really too bad, because it makes no sense.
Put simply, it is impossible for honest losses late in a career to in any way detract from or diminish an athlete’s earlier accomplishments. Each accomplishment stands on its own in the moment in time it took place in.
The fact that both McGregor and Holloway scored impressive, honest and deserving wins over Aldo in no way affect or even have anything to do with the Brazilian’s prior accomplishments. Can someone fairly say they believe McGregor and Holloway are both better fighters, head-to-head, than Aldo?
Sure, by all means. They earned that by beating the man.
As for Aldo’s body of work, well that will remain undamaged forever even unrivaled until another MMA fighter goes on a ten-year unbeaten streak as he did, or puts together a six-year world championship reign. All great fighters eventually lose, often times as they age.
An athlete’s achievements don’t disappear once they leave their prime. The fact that more people probably saw Aldo lose to McGregor than saw him devastate the featherweight division for a decade prior doesn’t mean his legacy is “tarnished.”
It just means that literate and knowledgeable analysts of the sport should make sure they offer full context and background on a guy like Aldo to newer fans to ensure that he isn’t dismissed now that much younger fighters have come along and beaten him late in his career