RIO DE JANEIRO — Jose Aldo moved from Manaus to Rio de Janeiro to become a jiu-jitsu champion, but ended up starting a career in mixed martial arts instead. More than a decade later, he will finally return to the grappling mats in an official tournament.
The former UFC featherweight champion is set to compete at IBJJF’s Masters International in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Saturday, and explained his decision to put the gi on one more time.
“After my (MMA) fights, I always put the gi to train,” Aldo told MMA Fighting. “This time, Hacran (Dias) was training in the gym, we were playing around, and he said he was going to compete, so he called me up to compete too. He said it would be good for him to see me there as well, so I accepted the challenge."
Aldo, who competed for the last time in 2004, when he won the CBJJO world championship as a brown belt, says he only trained a couple of weeks for this weekend’s tournament, and admits he didn’t check the brackets.
The UFC star will face Thiago Araujo Mariano in his first match, and needs five wins to claim the gold medal.
“It doesn’t matter who’s competing in my division, I don’t worry about it,” he said. “I've competed for so many years that I can go in there and have fun and do what I love, which is fight and compete."
Coming off of a title loss in Rio de Janeiro, suffering a third-round defeat to Max Holloway at UFC 212, Aldo is not at his best to compete under jiu-jitsu rules after so long. Yet, asked to grade his current condition skill-wise in a scale of one to 10, Aldo says he might surprise everyone in the end.
“I wouldn’t say I’m at 10 because I don’t make a living competing in jiu-jitsu only, but I’m always training jiu-jitsu, reading, training and watching videos,” Aldo said. “I wouldn’t say I’m (bad) also. I’ll be humble and say five [laughs]. Who knows, we might surprise people there."