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Renato Moicano: Jose Aldo is my idol, but I want to fight him

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Renato Moicano wants Jose Aldo next in the UFC.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Renato Moicano and Jose Aldo recently scored big first-round finishes in the UFC, and the rising talent issued a challenge to the former featherweight king.

Brazilian fighters often avoid calling out countrymen in mixed martial arts because of a mentality that they are defending the Brazilian flag in international promotions, so to see Moicano call out Aldo — even if in a respectful way — was a bit surprising for some.

Moicano improved to 5-1 in the UFC after a first-round submission over Cub Swanson at UFC 227, and explains why he decided to challenge Aldo, who beat Jeremy Stephens in his most recent Octagon appearance at UFC on FOX 30.

“He’s an idol in Brazil, he’s an idol for me, but we have to be the most professional possible,” Moicano told MMA Fighting. “It makes sense for the UFC, and the winner would go to a title fight next. What I really wanted was fighting (Brian) Ortega in a rematch, but he won’t fight anyone, he wants to wait to fight Max Holloway for the undisputed belt. We have to do other fights in the meantime, and I’m interested in fighting someone ahead of me.”

Exchanging punches and kicks with someone you admire can be tricky, but the American Top Team talent guarantees it means nothing when the bell rings.

“We don’t think about none of that when we’re in the cage, we go there to win the best way possible, but it was really hard for me to challenge him the way I did,” Moicano said. “However, if we were competing in any other sport people would see it as something good. Imagine competing against Pele in soccer or Guga (Kuerten) in tennis. It should be the same thing in fighting.

“Sharing the Octagon with Jose Aldo would be an honor for me,” he continued. “The fact that people talk about this fight and say it makes sense already makes me happy and honored. It would be a dream come true for me.”

Moicano, who also holds a win over Stephens in the UFC, is targeting a December or early 2019 return to action after slowly returning to training in Florida.

And even though Aldo has lost three of his last five in the UFC, knocked out by Conor McGregor and Max Holloway (twice), Moicano still thinks he’s in his prime — or “maybe even better.”

“That fight he lost to McGregor was luck… I wouldn’t say luck, but maybe he was too reckless, underestimated McGregor, and paid a high price for it,” Moicano said. “His losses to Holloway, I think his head wasn’t in the right place because he was still thinking about a rematch with McGregor, he wasn’t thinking straight.

“Based on his interviews now, that he wants to get his belt back, and his last performance in the UFC, knocking out a tough guy like Jeremy Stephens, who had only been knocked out like that once before, I believe he still is at his best.”

Aldo is one of the most skilled fighters in the featherweight division, with good boxing and deadly leg kicks. Moicano also has a very technical striking, but hasn’t stopped any of his 15 opponents with strikes in MMA. With six submission finishes under his belt, Moicano doesn’t expect to have an opportunity to grapple with his countryman.

“He doesn’t show much (of his ground game) because his takedown defense is almost impenetrable,” Moicano said of Aldo. “I don’t think anyone has ever taken him down, and if someone did, he came back up right away. I think it would be difficult to see both of us on the ground, so I think it’s going to be a stand-up fight.”