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Jose Aldo expects athletes to lose sponsors during COVID-19 pandemic, takes shot at fighters who pick opponents

Jose Aldo is scheduled to challenge UFC champion Henry Cejudo in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

The sponsor market was affected by the coronavirus pandemic as whole countries go on lockdown, and Jose Aldo is feeling the financial impact of it.

The former UFC featherweight champion expects to face Henry Cejudo at UFC 250 despite the outbreak, and sees not only himself but other athletes losing sponsorship deals as companies will probably struggle to make ends meet for the next weeks or months.

“Everybody’s defending (a lockdown), and I can guarantee you all athletes lost sponsors. Everyone,” Aldo told MMA Fighting. “Everyone’s losing sponsors. How will they support themselves? Will they go out in the streets to rob people? What are they going to do? There are no gyms, they are all closed. You can’t teach private classes. How will they support themselves?”

Aldo is quarantined at home for the last two weeks in hopes to be able to train properly ahead of his bantamweight title bout with Cejudo on May 9, as Nova Uniao was forced to close its doors in Rio de Janeiro. Asked if lost any sponsorship deal since the COVID-19 outbreak hit Brazil and left dozens dead, Aldo said “all athletes will lose” deals.

“I understand the businessmen’s side too,” Aldo said. “It’s not only the athlete’s side, ‘Oh, I have a contract.’ But how? Outside of a big company like Coca-Cola — that no athlete is sponsored by —, all companies are going bankrupt. All factories are stopping, the market is stopping. How are they supposed to keep an athlete if he can’t even pay an employee? That’s normal. That affects me and affects every other athlete. That’s normal and that will happen. I understand their side as well.”

With 15 UFC appearances over the last nine years, including 11 championship fights, Aldo can afford to wait a few months on the sidelines if needed, but other athletes may not have that luxury.

“That’s something I always told everybody in the gym and my friends, to never choose fights,” Aldo said. “Doesn’t matter if it’s the No. 1 or the last in the ranking, you have to fight because you never know about tomorrow. If you’re a champion, you’ll be a champion by fighting the first or the last in the ranking.

“The more you fight, the more you’re in the spotlight and everything increases, instead of this bullsh*t that went on recently, ‘Oh, I’ll only fight if you’re ranked, I won’t fight if you’re not ranked.’ And now they are out there all f*****, pardon the expression, desperate to fight no matter who because they will be in need. That’s how I think.”

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