RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — Jose Aldo has three fights left on his UFC contract and says he will retire when he completes his deal — or even before, if he re-captures the featherweight belt. Announcing his retirement is nothing new to Aldo, but his longtime coach Andre Pederneiras guarantees this time is different.
Aldo reigned supreme in the 145-pound division from 2009 to 2015, winning 15 straight fights inside the UFC and WEC cages, but his dominance ended when Conor McGregor took the featherweight belt to Ireland in 2015. The Brazilian star was hoping for an immediate rematch that never came, then started threatening to leave.
With “The Notorious” quickly aiming for a shot at the lightweight gold instead of defending the title he had just won, Aldo was eventually given a shot at an interim belt and faced Frankie Edgar at UFC 200. Aldo, who hoped that winning the interim title would lead to a rematch with McGregor, later realized the Irishman would not return to the division.
Less than three months after his win over Edgar, Aldo flew to Las Vegas to meet with UFC president Dana White. An interim champion at the time, Aldo hoped that the company would release him from his contract so he could leave MMA and start a career in boxing. The UFC obviously didn’t grant him the release, so Aldo announced his retirement.
That didn’t last long.
A phone call from the UFC president, informing Pederneiras that the promotion was moving on and matching two other featherweights to compete for the belt that Aldo was holding, quickly changed his mind.
”He didn’t want to fight MMA anymore,” Pederneiras told Brazilian journalists. “With the negative from the UFC, ‘OK, he retired.’ The next day, Dana called me and said, ‘Andre, I’ll put on a title fight in his division.’ I told [Aldo] and he said, ‘No, no, not with my title.’ [laughs] I asked if he was crazy, went from Brazil to Las Vegas to do this? So he kept fighting. But I believe that after this three fights, he ends up retiring.”
Aldo’s career continued, and he ended up fighting Max Holloway for the undisputed belt. The Brazilian lost via third-round TKO, then lost against when he fought a short-notice rematch against the Hawaiian.
With three loss in four bouts, Aldo had his back against the well in his return against Jeremy Stephens at UFC on FOX 30 in July, but impressed with a first-round TKO.
“For a champion that was so dominant like he was for so long, winning only one of four fights is something that affects you, especially if the last two are for the title and you lose them,” Pederneiras said. “Aldo has been fighting for titles for nine years, ever since he became WEC champion, so every fight is pressure.
”Someone who’s used to winning all of his fights and then he starts losing, no one says he won’t feel something different. Did he has a weight over him to win? Of course, because he put that weight over himself. ‘I was champion my entire life, how am I losing now?’ Anyone who says he didn’t have that weight over his shoulders will be lying, and that’s what you saw after the fight, the outburst of emotions.”
Pederneiras revealed that the UFC had originally offered a fight with Yair Rodriguez, but they turned it down. When Stephens called out the former champion, Aldo “called me and said, ‘call Dana and accept it,’” Pederneiras said.
”Jeremy Stephens is the type of guy that buries you or gets you back up because in that type of fight, which is a type of fight that Aldo also does, to stand and bang, someone will go down,” Pederneiras said. “Aldo knew he needed a situation like this to come back, (against someone) well ranked.
”They offered us Yair Rodriguez and it was a fight that didn’t interest us,” he continued. “He was coming off a loss, way below in the ranking. It’s not that we were afraid of Yair, but why am I fighting a guy [in that situation]? But when they offered someone better ranked, coming off a series of knockouts, close to a title shot, that’s worth it.”
Aldo’s next step has yet to be determined.
With Holloway currently sidelined after dealing with concussion-like symptoms prior to his title defense versus Brian Ortega, Aldo’s team is targeting an interim title fight with Ortega, but everything depends on how long Holloway will stay out of action.
“It all depends on timing,” Pederneiras said. “If they fight in three months, we’ll wait. If it’s only in a year from now, we can’t wait. Put Ortega and Aldo to fight for an interim title, and when Max Holloway is fine, he gets back.
”He’s willing to fight next week. He wants to finish the contract.”