When Jose Aldo first announced he was slimming down for his bantamweight debut, many wondered if getting rid of extra 10 pounds was too much. The former UFC and WEC champion never missed weight at featherweight, but never looked that healthy on the scale either.
Aldo weighed 150 pounds when he announced that weight class change on Oct. 22. Two days later, news broke that he and Marlon Moraes had agreed to face off at UFC 245 on Dec. 14. The Nova Uniao star was already on a diet for the first time in his career, following the guidance of nutritionist Dr. Priscila Antunes.
Dr. Antunes had little previous experience with MMA, assisting UFC strawweight Claudia Gadelha back in 2014, and admits “it was a challenge” when Aldo’s doctor, Dr. Maria Amelia, called her with the task of getting Aldo down to 135 pounds for the first time inside the Octagon.
According to the nutritionist, Aldo got rid of the first pounds just by controlling carbs. Since he had different training sessions for specific days of the week, Dr. Antunes prepared a plan that would better suit him every step of the way. The only thing she forced him to get rid during his diet was ice cream and candy — she even let Aldo have burgers and chocolate here and there.
“He hates nutritionists,” Dr. Antunes laughed during an interview with MMA Fighting. “But he trusted me. Aldo is very focused, you know? He had nowhere to run, he needed a nutritionist this time. He couldn’t do it by himself. And his diet was pretty easy.”
Aldo’s weight was going down easily with a “train low, sleep high” carb diet, she said, but got stuck around 147 pounds a month before the fight. Dr. Antunes changed his diet and the UFC fighter once again had to worry about not losing weight too soon.
When Aldo started a ketogenic diet on his final week before the official weigh-ins on Dec. 13, his weight came off easier than for his fights at featherweight.
“I think that’s one of the reasons why Aldo had so much cardio in his fight,” Dr. Antunes said. “Many athletes tend to follow a protein diet before the weigh-ins. I’ve had that experience before but I think it broke my athletes. When I did the ketogenic diet with him, it worked.”
Neither Dr. Antunes nor Dr. Amelia flew to Las Vegas to follow Aldo’s last week of weight cut, and the nutritionist admits she was tense with her first big challenge in the mixed martial arts world.
“I was afraid… I was very afraid,” Dr. Antunes said. “I texted Maria Amelia the day before (the weigh-ins) and said, ‘I’m afraid. What if something happens? What if it doesn’t work?’ She texted me the next morning congratulating me, saying that he made weight.
“Reading the scientific paper is one thing, but making someone follow that during a moment of stress before a fight is completely different, but it worked.”
José Aldo side by side: featherweight versus bantamweight. Thoughts? pic.twitter.com/rZKSRKoI6M— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) December 13, 2019
The UFC star says he woke up under the limit, at 135.5 pounds, and took a sip of water. His official weight on Friday morning was 136, and “I wasn’t desperate to drink water like I usually am.” According to Dr. Antunes, Aldo weighed around 155.5 pounds by the time he entered the Octagon to compete.
“It was excellent,” Aldo told MMA Fighting. “I never cut weight so easily in my life. It was way easier than everybody imagined. I knew it would be easy as soon as I started this diet months ago. I knew I would recover well and be strong to fight the next day. I was ready to fight five, 10 rounds if I had to.”
Aldo is looking forward to landing in Brazil and having an açaí for the first time in months. Other “addictions” he had, like Coca Cola, he got rid a while ago.
Dr. Antunes doesn’t know MMA well enough to give her take on the controversial split decision in favor of Moraes, but felt “at least a draw” would be the right call.
“I woke up with several text messages saying he looked incredible and the result was unfair, so I had to watch it,” she said. “I found the fight on YouTube and he really did great. Who am I to say if it was fair or unfair, but he really did great in the fight.”
The former 145-pound king hopes to earn a shot at the bantamweight title despite the defeat in Las Vegas, and two-division champion Henry Cejudo is open to that idea.
Aldo told MMA Fighting he’s down to getting back in the Octagon as soon as March 14, headlining UFC Brasilia, if that’s what the UFC wants and Cejudo is ready, and his nutritionist guarantees he would have no problem making hitting the 135-pound limit on the scale 13 weeks after UFC 245.