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Jose Aldo Finally Healthy After Overcoming Multiple Injuries

You wouldn't have known it from his last two title defenses, but UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo was fighting hurt.

Last fall, his issues finally came to enough of a head that he was forced to pull out of a scheduled title defense at UFC 125 so he could get healthy. And while a neck injury was the official reason for pulling out of his fight with Josh Grispi in January, it was an issue with his right shoulder that has had him on the shelf for six months.

"There were two things that were bothering him," said Aldo's translator, Derek Lee, during a Tuesday media call ahead of UFC 129. "The first was on his neck – the C5 and C6, he had a little bit of pain on his discs. But really, the main injury was on his right shoulder. He feels that he injured it during the Mike Brown fight, and after that he still fought Urijah Faber and Manny Gamburyan."

Aldo beat Mike Brown by TKO to win the then-WEC featherweight title at WEC 44 in November 2009. Six months later, he fought former 145-pound kingpin Faber to a dominant decision victory. And in September, he knocked out Gamburyan in his WEC swan song.

But Aldo, through Lee, said defending his title with the nagging shoulder problem is the biggest factor that led him to shut the shoulder down for a lengthy rehab – though no surgery was required.

"In both those fights, he felt – especially fighting a wrestler like Urijah Faber, defending the takedowns and all that – he had a lot of wear on his shoulder," Lee said after translating for Aldo, a Brazilian. "So he felt he had to take some time off for that and be back at 100 percent."

Aldo said he tried to stay positive, despite having to pull out of the Grispi fight, his original next challenger. (Grispi fought at UFC 125 anyway, losing a decision to Dustin Poirier and falling out of the immediate title picture.)

"There's really no frustration because he knew he was in the UFC and he was going to be fighting soon," Lee said for Aldo. "He wanted to fight in January, but it didn't happen. But he said some things happen for a reason, and now is his time."

With an 11-fight winning streak and sheer dominance over all his WEC opponents – including a record 8-second knockout of Cub Swanson – Aldo has been in the mix as one of the world's top pound-for-pound fighters since beating Brown for the featherweight belt. Aldo went 8-0 in the WEC, including three Knockout of the Night bonuses. Only his win over Faber went the distance – the other seven wins were by KO or TKO, despite his standing as a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt.

At UFC 129 in Toronto next week, Aldo returns to defend his now-UFC featherweight title against Ontario's Mark Hominick in front of 55,000 fans on arguably the most prominent event in MMA history.

"He feels really good going into this fight," Aldo said through Lee. "It's his first fight in the UFC, so he's got his belt on the line already. That's not a problem for him. In his mind, this is just another fight. This is his job, and this is what he's got to do like he's always been doing in his career. Training camp was great – it was strong, and he trained as good as he always has. If you get the job done in the gym, there's no reason to be worried."

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