Jose Aldo managed to secure a shot at UFC bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo, despite the fact he doesn’t have a single win in the weight class and is coming off back-to-back defeats, and he won’t let a global pandemic get in his way.
The former UFC and WEC featherweight king had to adapt his routine after the coronavirus outbreak forced Nova Uniao gym to close its doors in Rio de Janeiro, training at home with his wife for two weeks now.
Switching things up ahead of such an important fight is not ideal, but Aldo has a plan for the next six weeks before UFC 250, a pay-per-view event currently scheduled for May 9 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
“I’ll separate a group of athletes, no more than five fighters that have been in quarantine as well, and I know they don’t have it, so they can train with me,” Aldo told MMA Fighting. “I’ve proven I don’t have it (by staying at home for two weeks). If they don’t have it either, we can train and have contact. I’ll train exclusively with that group.
“We’re all isolated. We’re in quarantine, so, when it’s over, we’ll take all the precaution needed and be able to train jiu-jitsu and spar. We’ll be able to do out normal training. The gym is closed, so we’ll open it just for us and train without risking getting contaminated or contaminating others.”
Even if his camp is far from the ideal, Aldo doesn’t think he needs much to get past Cejudo, who rides a five-fight winning streak that includes victories over the likes of Demetrious Johnson, Marlon Moraes and T.J. Dillashaw.
“F***, I only need a week of training to beat Cejudo,” Aldo said. “I’m more worried about making weight than fighting him. I can be off camp, on vacation, but if you put me in the Octagon with him, I beat him with an eye closed. So, for me, it’s not about sparring, if I only have a month or a week to train, I beat him even if I’m not training. The only problem is the weight, so that’s why I’m eating well. I’m cool about the fight though, don’t worry about it.”
To make sure he successfully hits the 135-pound mark the morning before the fight, Aldo’s strength and conditioning coach gives him a training routine and he follows it at home. The Brazilian star currently weights 155.4 pounds, lighter than he was six weeks before his bantamweight debut against Moraes in December.
“It’s not even close to my regular camp, of course, but I’m staying very active at home, training the way I can,” Aldo said. “I’m not sloppy or out of shape just because I’m not at the gym. I’m active, keeping my weight low, eating well, so I’m sure I’ll be fine.”
The government of Sao Paulo imposed a lockdown on all non-essential businesses until at least April 7 after 48 deaths and 862 confirmed cases in the state. Aldo would expect the event to go on behind closed doors like UFC Brasilia on March 14 “because gathering a lot of people is a huge risk,” but is ready to fly just in case plans change.
“You can test everyone and there’s no problem, there’s no reason not to fight,” he said. “The world can’t stop.”
With UFC 249 booked for April 18 in a yet-to-be-determined location, Aldo believes that the success of that pay-per-view card, headline by a highly anticipated lightweight match between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson, will indicate how smooth it will be to run UFC 250 weeks later.
“Everything can change in a split second, of course,” Aldo said. “This is the first time we’re experiencing something like this in our lives and we’re all being affected by it, so it all depends on this event now. My card is a few weeks later, so we’ll have an idea how we can deal with it. I pray and hope that God can enlighten the minds of the scientists and they can find a way to neutralize this coronavirus, COVID-19, and can find a treatment as soon as possible.
“I think just like Dana (White), our sport will be the first to come back. He has a private jet and can fly everyone to this event. It all depends on Khabib’s fight and how it’s going to happen. Everything went perfect? Brother, he can do all fights now. We have six weeks for my fight, so we’ll know how the world will be by then, how Vegas will be, so we’ll have a better idea when we can fight. It can be anywhere. It all depends on the Khabib fight. (Just do) five fights, actually. The main card. The rest, see ya!
“I have no problems getting on a plane and travel to fight. Wherever that is, I’ll fight. I’ll be doing what I love and will be fighting for my family.”
The UFC star doesn’t know where in the world he will face Cejudo, but one thing is for sure: “I beat him wherever the fights goes.”
“Easy,” Aldo said. “I’ll knock him out fast, no doubt about it. It won’t go five rounds, brother. It won’t. No doubt. If he tries to take me down, he won’t succeed because I’ve fought better wrestlers than him. I respect his history in the Olympics, he was an Olympic champion, congratulations, hats off to him, but it’s a whole other sport. It’s completely different. He won the Olympics at 55kg (121.25 pounds) and it’s completely different from MMA.
“I’m not worried about it. I have way more jiu-jitsu than him. If he takes me to the ground, I’ll submit him even if I’m not training for a year, and if we stay on the feet, I’ll knock him out. Don’t worry, wherever the fight goes I’ll knock him out.”