Former UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo came close to calling it quits after some disappointing results in the Octagon. Now once again within title contention in the bantamweight division, the Brazilian has only his country’s Navy to thank for giving him the much needed motivation to go on.
Paired up against Rob Font for UFC Vegas 44’s main event, Aldo explained how the change of environment during the COVID-19 pandemic benefited him even while in the throes of a three-fight losing skid. The way the 35-year-old framed it, the Navy not only gave him a second wind, but also made the Brazilian realize he needed to change his style in the Octagon.
“I was already thinking about retiring really, I had that in mind,” Aldo said on MMA Fighting’s podcast Trocacao Franca. “But after the Petr [Yan] fight, the pandemic and et cetera … those [Brazilian Navy] kids lit a fire inside me, brother. I have so much will to fight these days. I’ve been with the Navy for almost two years now, since the [start of the COVID-19] pandemic. Man, I’m feeling like a boy again, learning every day, changing my fighting style. That renewed me to fight again, lit the fire I needed.”
Now back on a two-fight winning streak, Aldo believes that a victory over Font might be the last step before the title. Still, the longtime Nova Uniao talent knows the division is in a bit of a logjam due to champion Aljamain Sterling being injured. Should he have to wait a little longer for the belt, Aldo wouldn’t say no to taking on former title-holder TJ Dillashaw if the offer came his way.
“Rob is one more step, and defeating him on Dec. 4, we’ll be a bit closer to the belt. I don’t know how it’s going to be given Sterling’s injury, that could be a problem. I believe he’ll fight Petr, I don’t know if [T.J.] Dillashaw will wait that long, so maybe a fight between Dillashaw and I could [determine] the next contender.”
“It might happen,” he said. “The fact Sterling is injured and we don’t know when he’s coming back, that [Dillashaw fight] could indeed happen in the future. Dillashaw and I, I don’t know if right now or in the near future, we want this fight. It’s a great fight for both of us, the UFC and the fans, so we’d all agree. I don’t know if it could be on the same card [of Sterling-Yan]. If it is, I’ll be ready. My history is rich, so is his, and we need to make this fight.”
In his last outings, Aldo (30-7) scored unanimous decision wins over Pedro Munhoz and Marlon Vera, respectively in August 2021 and December 2020. Before that, the 35-year-old had lost three in a row, to Alexander Volkanovski, Marlon Moraes and Petr Yan.
UFC Vegas 44 is scheduled to take place on December 4, at the UFC Apex, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Outside the bantamweight main event, the card is expected to feature a thrilling lightweight action-fight between Brad Riddell and Rafael Fiziev in the co-main event.