Even as the class action lawsuit against the UFC over antitrust allegations marches slowly onward, the history of MMA fighters vs. the UFC in court has classically not been kind to fighters. Whether it’s Randy Couture giving up on a money-sucking defense against Zuffa’s claims that he caused them injury in an HDNet press conference, or Ken Shamrock ending up owing Zuffa legal fees after claiming the organization owed him another fight, or BJ Penn ending up belt-less and in K-1 after attempting to sit on the welterweight title as a bargaining chip for a bigger contract. However you slice it, fighters who have ended up in court with the UFC don’t tend to get what they want.
That doesn’t seem to be stopping Jose Aldo, however. His coach recently revealed, via Combate, that the current interim featherweight champion and former undisputed champion is ready to test legal waters if the promotion won’t release him from his current UFC deal (translation via MMAFighting):
"I think Dana and the new owners have to understand that there’s a completely unsatisfied employee who doesn’t want to continue," Pederneiras said. "If that was in Brazil and a guy said ‘boss, I want to leave,’ I’d say ‘Ok, I can’t hold you.’ The contract we have in the UFC, ‘boss, I want to leave,’ the answer is ‘no, you’ll be stuck with me, you might not do anything, but you can’t leave here.’ Is that something nice?
"I think it creates dissatisfaction, and he will want to go to court. He would have to go to court to cut this contract. And the damage a dissatisfied person, someone like Aldo, talking sh*t to everyone about a lot of things, I think the company wouldn’t want a guy like this every day in the media talking trash. Since the guy doesn’t want to do it, let him leave! ‘I just want to leave, I don’t want to stay here anymore, I don’t want to fight here. I don’t want to be in anymore.’ We don’t want a war, we don’t want a fight, we don’t want to talk bad about anyone. We only want the right to say ‘I don’t want to be here anymore. It’s not about money, I don’t want to be here anymore.’"
Aldo’s dissatisfaction most recently stems from the aftermath of his first UFC loss, to Conor McGregor back in December of 2015. The longest running featherweight champ in the promotion’s history has been looking for a rematch with McGregor since that loss, and would seem to have clinched it by winning the interim title with a victory over Frankie Edgar at UFC 200. However, with no immediate plans for McGregor to return to 145, and without the UFC pressing McGregor to vacate the belt, it seems Aldo is tired of being stuck in promotional purgatory.
Add to it, lingering memories of the UFC’s disputing Aldo’s rib injury, the UFC’s seeming unwillingness to let him take on Anthony Pettis for a superfight back in 2013, and the end result could be something that even money can’t easily solve.
With a reported six fights still on his contract, however, solving it for Aldo may be a problem. An even bigger one if he intends to keep fighting. At the moment, Pederneiras is suggesting that Aldo may want to compete in other combat sports, not just MMA. But either way, getting out from under his UFC deal could be a near-impossible task.