RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — Former UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo discusses his upcoming fight with Renato Moicano in the co-main event of UFC Fortaleza in February, his plans to retire from the sport in 2019, and much more.
Read the full transcription below, or watch the scrum above (click on the CC button on the player for subtitles).
One of the biggest topics of this fight was the discussion about it being three or five rounds. Dana White mentioned that you preferred three rounds. In the past, you said you didn’t want to fight Moicano, it was mentioned a fight with Cub Swanson. I wanted you to explain the negotiation before this fight at UFC Fortaleza.
First, I was going to fight Cub Swanson, it was a done deal, but he got injured, okay. After that, they offered me Moicano. I see no problem, I never said I wouldn’t fight him or any other athlete. No matter what, I defend my flag. If it’s not from my team, I’ll fight anyone. I sent them a list of 10 or 15 fighters that I could fight, and Moicano’s name was in it. I never turned anything down. The thing about three or five rounds, it was Dede who thought it wouldn’t be good. You can ask him. He made the fight three rounds, he thought it would be better. To me, it doesn’t matter. Five, 10 rounds, how many they want, I’ll do it against Moicano or anyone else. I have no problem with that. I train for that, that’s what I do every day. I want to get there and always do my best. I never said otherwise. In fact, I was the one who asked for Dede’s permission and spoke directly with Dana because he had asked me about Michael Johnson, who called me out and I accepted it right away. I spoke with Dana directly and asked for it. I sent the name and everything else. I wanted to be on this card, especially early in the year, because I want to fight three times this year.
If it wasn’t for Dede’s advice, would you be the main event?
Of course. For sure. It’s tough to see me in the in the co-main event… Of course, respecting both of them, Raphael (and Moraes) will be the main event, (but) it’s tough to see the name I have and not being the main event. I had that in my mind, but if I got to where I am today was thanks to Dede, and he knows really well what he’s doing.
About fighting another Brazilian, Moicano, is on a good run right now. Cris Cyborg took the fight with Amanda Nunes, but said she didn’t like the idea of fighting another Brazilian. Does that bother you?
No, it doesn’t. I say that since the beginning. I made a career fighting in Brazil before going overseas. Man, I just won’t fight people from my team, who were raised with me and are with me every day, helping me out and watching me grow. The rest, I don’t see any problem, Brazilians or not. I won’t take anyone’s dream, the dream of becoming champion. That’s not a problem. If he has the opportunity to fight me, I don’t see any problem with that.
Sometimes there’s this dynamic in fighting where one fighter has more to gain than the other in a fight. Some say Moicano has more to gain because you have a big name, you’re a former champion. Do you see it that way, that maybe you have more to lose?
No, I don’t see it that way. A fight is 50-50. I try to forget everything that’s on the outside and think about the training and my goals inside my career. I don’t think about me having a name or not. He’s on a good run, but it’s the same thing: if I beat him, that takes any possibility of any other contender… But I don’t think about this right now. I think step by step. The next fight is against Renato, so I want to prepare to go there and win.
He said he thinks his game is similar to Holloway’s. Do you agree? Fighting him after training for Holloway, did you use any of that?
No. I don’t think it has anything similar. He has a completely different style. Holloway attacks a lot and absorbs well the strikes. It’s a different style. Maybe the size, and that’s it, but not the fighting style. It’s completely different. He’s more strategic, Holloway is more open, gets hit and absorbs it well. It’s completely different. I’m seeing a different path that I know will lead me to the win. And I was dumb against Holloway, by the way. I lost a fight that I was winning well here in Rio — Holloway’s merits, hats off to him. The second one, no, I was too blind and forgot everything I had done and trained. I came from the United States, I had spent a month only training boxing, and wanted to knock him out at all costs. I gave my all in a short-notice fight, an opportunity I couldn’t let pass by, but it’s part of the game.
If you had to compare Moicano’s style to anyone you’ve fought before, do you see similarities with someone or you think he’s different than everyone?
No, no, there are similarities. Everybody is doing the same game today. It’s not something new, especially at ATT, so we study it a lot, every day studying every move they make to avoid problems. (Everyone in) the division is bigger now, not only him but other featherweights, like Ortega, are very tall, so it’s not something new to me. I’m training hard to neutralize that.
You said you were dumb against Max Holloway. Do you think that a win over Moicano, as impressive as the one against Jeremy Stephens, is enough to put you as the next in line against Holloway again, or do you think you’d need to do something more since he beat you twice?
I don’t even think about fighting for the belt. Renato is my next challenge, I want to go there and beat him, and then we’ll see who they give us next. I’m not thinking about a title fight now, only if we renegotiate our contract and be able to do what I want for my future. I’ve made it clear for both Dede and Dana, everybody knows what I want to do, so if that new contract has that opening, maybe I can fight for the title in the future. But fighting for the title is not going through my mind right now. In the future, maybe put the Russian (Zabit Magomedsharipov), or Ortega again for the belt, or maybe Max moves up in weight. I don’t know what will happen, but I don’t see myself fighting for the title now.
What is this opening that you talked about?
That’s something personal, my future. First, we’re focusing on doing these three fights. Dede knows about this. I’ll fight in Fortaleza now, we’re closing this next fight for May 11, in Curitiba — if I’m not mistaken —, and then close it in the event they will do in Brazil in the second semester.
Would that be boxing, or maybe fighting in another division?
I don’t know yet, we’re still sitting down… My focus now is my next fight, and after that we already have an opponent, already have everything… Not closed, it depends on the result now. We’ll see what happens.
You mean an opponent for Curitiba?
What’s the idea?
You have to ask Dede. When this (scrum) is over, do one with him. He’ll have better answers for you.
How did that win over Jeremy Stephens motivate you, coming back with a knockout? Are we going to see the old Aldo again?
That’s it, the ‘old Aldo’. You can be sure of that. It was a fight that we agreed to, (Stephens) called me out and I agreed right away and texted Dana and it happened. It motivates me a lot, but, of course, I already have a goal in my head so I’m working hard, harder than ever. I can say I’m in great shape, technique-wise too. I don’t think I’ve trained this hard even when I was 15. I’m really happy and I want to give the Brazilian fans, especially the ones from Fortaleza, a great fight. I know the arena will be sold out. Be sure that I’m very motivated.
About the wave of violence in the state of Ceara right now, are you following the news?
I’m afraid of that.
Is there a chance they move the event to another location? What are your thoughts on that?
We were talking about that, actually, that maybe that happens, but I hope local authorities take some action and fixes it so we can fight there. I really wanted to fight in the Northeast, in Fortaleza. I have a lot of fans there, and ever since the fight was announced I’ve been getting a lot of messages, so I want to fight there. There’s the violence thing, but I hope everything is solved over the next two weeks.
Did the UFC notify you about a possible change?
Dede is the one that has been talking about it. I hope not. We’ve planned to fight there, friends, family, everybody bought tickets, so I hope it doesn’t change.
Talking about the fight, how do you analyze it style-wise? How do you see this fight playing out inside the Octagon?
I usually don’t think too much about my opponent. We train his strong points, of course, but I think about imposing my game. I think about going in there and wanting to do my best. My explosion is the best I have, it’s what I do best, so I want to get there and be very explosive and no one can handle it.
If you could choose, would you prefer to win by knockout or submission?
For sure, but it doesn’t matter to me, knockout or submission. Finishing it early so we can pack our stuff and come back to Rio to go to the beach on Sunday would be great.
What are your thoughts on B.J. Penn’s loss after his training camp at Nova Uniao? How did you react watching him lose that way?
It was hard. We saw his training… I don’t think he ever trained that hard in his life, even when he was 10. He trained hard, everybody pushed him hard. We trained that, and he was doing completely differently in the gym, the heel hook defense. I’ll give credit to his opponent, he locked a good submission and was able to finish the fight. But I was really surprised. I believed 100 percent that he would win that fight.
How do you imagine yourself finishing your career?
The best way possible. I want to finish my career with good health, too. One thing I said in my last fight is that I want to stop tomorrow and not use my money to buy my heath back. Today I give away my health to make my money, so I won’t do that. I want to enjoy my daughter, my wife, be able to travel, without fighting until I’m 40. I see our great idols doing that and having bad performances… I always tell ‘Dede’ (Pederneiras), if one day I’m not in my rhythm in terms of performance, take me out of there because it’s not for me to be in there anymore. I don’t want to fight for money. I’ve planned my entire life so I could stop (fighting) without any problem.
Talking about your future, I remember that you once said that it was set in stone that you’d retire when you completed your contract…
I mean, when you talked earlier it seemed that there would still have a contract negotiation, the belt…
Here’s what happens… what’s the deal about the belt? I have to read the contract, it’s in English, but you can be sure that if I fight for the title and win, it would basically renew it, so Dede comes into play and has to negotiate it. That’s what I don’t want, to be locked. My goal is to fight in Fortaleza, to fight for everybody, especially here, and I want to fight finish my career in Brazil. I want to end my career here in Brazil. That’s what we have planned. I intend to fight in May, too, and then finish it in the second semester since I know there will be another event in Brazil. they already know this. There’s no reason to get here and aim for a title fight. But you can be sure that I’ll be a problem for whoever gets in front of me because I will win these three fights. You can be sure of this. If I fought for the title, it would automatically renew my contract and I don’t want more of that.
But you can do it like St-Pierre, who won the belt and still decided to retire.
That’s a possibility.
You’ve always mentioned him as a role model for you, someone who retired at the top.
That’s what I think, and that’s why I don’t want to fight for the title right now. If this possibility exists, and I’m physically well like Georges when he came back, that’s a possibility for the future. But you can be sure that signing and fighting for another promotion is something you won’t see. I’m very loyal and thankful for what the UFC and WEC did for me, what Zuffa did for me. I’d only fight there, and if one day I come back it would be to fight there again.
But, for now, according to your plan, 2019 will be the last year we’ll watch Aldo fighting?
Exactly. With those little black gloves, it will be the last year.
So the goal is to finish your career with the belt again?
That would be a dream, what I’ve always imagined, to finish it with the belt. That’s what I’ve always imagined, to step away with the belt. That’s why I’m saying it depends on the negotiation, if it’s possible to fight for the title and then leave it. That’s how I would like to leave.
And your post-career life, what are the plans for that?
I already have everything in articulated in my head. We only have to finish the year, fight these thee fights and, everything going well, no injuries, we have other plans.