RIO DE JANEIRO -- Jose Aldo went through a lot before becoming the longest featherweight champion in history, and his life story hit theaters in Brazil.
"Mais forte que o mundo" ("Stronger than the world", in Portuguese) premiered Wednesday in Rio de Janeiro, and the former UFC 145-pound champion couldn’t hold his tears back while watching Jose Loreto play the MMA star on the big screen.
"I have to thank (director) Afonso Poyart and the whole crew for telling my story in theaters and making me very emotional. It’s amazing," Aldo told the media. "I think that, being a fight fan or not, this movie will move you because it’s an emotional story. The first time I watched it I was so excited about my story being told in a movie that I didn’t actually pay attention [laughs]. The second time I watched it, I really paid attention to the story. To look back at the past… It was hard for me, but I overcame everything I went through."
The movie tells the story of a young kid from Manaus who goes through a lot of problems in his life before moving to Rio de Janeiro to pursue his dream of becoming a fighter. It mixes true facts from his life, with a bit of fiction, and Poyart decided to make Aldo’s troubled relationship with his father, Jose, the main story of the movie. There is no word yet on whether or not the movie will be released in the United States.
Aldo’s father had a drinking problem and constantly hit his wife Rocilene, and that forced his family to go in different directions. Rocilene moved to a separate house with his two daughters, and Aldo eventually moved to Rio de Janeiro to live at Nova Uniao.
"It’s impossible not to cry," Aldo said. "A MMA fan or not, it’s a beautiful movie. It’s my movie so I thought it was wonderful [laughs]. My relationship with my father, a hero and a villain, is really beautiful in the movie."
"A father probably is the toughest character to do in a movie," said Jackson Antunes, who played Aldo’s father in the movie. "Having a son is the biggest responsibility you can have in your life, even if you get lost in the way. Everything is about love. I looked inside of my heart for love to build this human being. I meet Jose today and he looks into my eyes and stops for a second, remembers of his father, and gets emotional. That’s a wonderful feedback.
"Alcohol is part of their culture. Unfortunately, domestic violence is also part of their culture. But there’s a beautiful side of this story," Antunes continued. "Aldo’s father loved him, wished the best for him. There’s a moment in the movie where he realizes he won’t have control over his son and over his own actions, and he says ‘get out of here so you don’t become someone like me. Fight for what you love and what makes you happy’. It’s the human conflict."
It took them almost a year to shoot the two-hour movie, and Jose Loreto had to completely change his life to become a MMA fighter.
"It was stimulant. Some would say it was hard, but I call it stimulant because he’s a complex character outside of the fight," Loreto said. "He has a special strength inside of him that he uses in the Octagon. I became a true fighter. I forgot that I was an actor, I became a fighter for this movie. I think it’s an amazing movie because of this dedication. I used Aldo’s characteristics that inspire me the most: his dedication, the warrior spirit, the martial art. I used that in my preparation.
"It was intense, it wore me out, but it was worth it. Every punch in the face I took, it was worth it. I got punched a lot in this movie, and I asked for it. I prepared myself as a fighter, so in the fighting scene I didn’t want that technical punch. I went for it. Many people got hurt, and I got hurt too. But I went back home at night, put ice in the bathtub, and I was ready to go again in the next day. It was the life of an athlete. I twisted my ankle, I got hurt a lot. I felt pain in my body that I believe I will carry with me for the rest of my life [laughs]."
The movie ends with Aldo become the UFC featherweight champion, defeating Mark Hominick in front of 55,000 fans in Canada, but many things have changed since. "Mais forte que o mundo" was expected to be released in Brazil last December, a week after UFC 194, but they decided to change plans following Aldo’s 13-second loss to Conor McGregor.
Aldo returns to action on July 9, facing Frankie Edgar for the interim featherweight championship at UFC 200. Aldo’s goal is to beat Edgar and get his rematch with "The Notorious", and that could lead to a second movie.
"It’s a biography of a young guy, so he will still have a lot of stories to be told in the future. I think so, there could be more movies to be made," Poyart said. "Maybe the McGregor fight could be a second movie, absolutely. This fight alone is a movie. All this conflict with McGregor would give us a spin-off, to say the least. Who knows, maybe we’ll do something in the future. After the rematch happens, McGregor would be a great archrival for Aldo."
It’s up to Aldo to live the story that will be told in a second movie, and he wants it to end like the first one: his hands raised, a UFC belt around his waist, and a party in Rio de Janeiro.
"There’s a huge story to be told in the future," Aldo said. "Just like in the Rocky movie, they had a lot of movies. If that happens to me, brother… I think that getting my belt back, this story would be awesome. It would be a great story with me beating up (McGregor) and getting the belt back. My focus is on the belt now. As soon as I get the belt back, defeating Frankie Edgar, I will think what’s next. We do have unfinished business."