Aldo, once dominant as the UFC featherweight champion, decided to change things up and cut down to 135 pounds after losing a decision to Alexander Volkanovski in May. He agreed to face Moraes in the final UFC event of the year in Las Vegas. That move did not surprise “Magic” Moraes.
“I honestly thought it made sense because he wanted to fight for a belt, and he already has a name,” Moraes told MMA Fighting. “So he would make a big impact only by entering this division.”
Aldo was coming off back-to-back knockout wins over Renato Moicano and Jeremy Stephens before dropping a three-round decision to Volkanovski in Rio de Janeiro. Moraes expects “the best Aldo of all times” when they meet inside the Octagon at the T-Mobile Arena.
“We’re going there super-well trained and with a ton of respect, we’re talking about professional athletes,” Moraes said. “Aldo was a champion, so I’m going there to face this former champion and put on a show for the fans and come out with the win.”
Speaking of the times he used to train at Nova Uniao, Moraes hadn’t even made his WSOF debut at the time and has no recollection of sparring sessions with Aldo.
“I’ve trained there eight years ago, and everything changes,” said Moraes, who had a 7-4-1 record when he signed with WSOF in 2012. “We can’t even remember. We’re both completely different fighters now. His team is really strong and has a lot of great fighters, great knowledge. We know we’re not only up against a great team, but also a great fighter.”
Aldo’s team is hoping that a win over Moraes gives him a shot at Henry Cejudo for the undisputed 135-pound championship. So what’s at stake for the American Top Team talent, who came up short against Cejudo earlier this year?
“Fighting someone like Jose Aldo, with all his history, carries a lot of weight alredy,” Moraes said. “I just want to get back to the wins. That’s what matters the most. An athlete likes to win, no matter if there’s a title next or not. I want to get back to the wins and fight the best. If the time comes for me to fight for the belt again, I’ll get there better prepared than ever.
“We’ll try to fix some mistakes we made in the last fight and come back better next time. There’s always something to fix. It will be a big surprise. There’s no point talking now and send messages. I’d rather go there and surprise everyone.
“Many people underestimate Henry, but he’s a great athlete who was able to impose his game against me and won. I hope to use everything I’ve learned in that fight for my next ones.”