Jose Aldo never had an easy life cutting weight during his entire reign as the WEC and UFC featherweight king but still managed to secure a successful move to bantamweight in his mid-30s, which explains why he’s not a fan of Paulo Costa’s recent weight controversies in the UFC.
Costa was booked to headline UFC Vegas 41 against fellow middleweight contender Marvin Vettori on Oct. 23, but rumors began to circulate during fight week that “Borrachinha” wouldn’t make the 186-pound limit on Friday morning. Those rumors were then addressed at media day by both fighters, who initially agreed to change the fight to a 195-pound catchweight. After further negotiations (including Costa forfeiting 20 percent of his purse to Vettori) a light heavyweight contest was agreed upon.
Speaking on a recente episode of MMA Fighting’s Portuguese-language podcast Trocação Franca, Aldo called it disrespectful.
“‘Dede’ (coach Andre Pederneiras) always told us that losing and winning is part of the fight, but our obligation was to make weight,” Aldo said. “If you don’t make weight, it’s lack of respect towards your opponent, the promotion, and the fans that are waiting for that. That’s how I was raised, that’s what made me the athlete I am today. To me, it was disrespectful. Even if he’s Brazilian, if could be a friend of mine or anything like that, if you ask me, I’d still say the same thing.
“The opponent goes through like two or three months preparing for a fight in one weight [class], goes on a diet, gets to fight week and starts hearing rumblings that this guy won’t make weight or whatever and starts losing focus. You begin to think not only about your weight, but if the actual fight is going to happen, if the guy will make weight, if he’s going up or going down.
“Even if there’s a fine, even if he gives up, I don’t know, 50 percent of his contact to the opponent, it still disturbs him. It disturbs [the fighter], disturbs the fans that are waiting, disturbs the journalists, disturbs everybody. You go to sleep with one situation and wake up in the morning and it has changed again, the fight is cancelled and then it’s confirmed again.”
Costa and Vettori put on a classic five-round fight in the end with Vettori coming out on top via unanimous decision. Costa, a former title contender who has now lost two in a row and only has one bout left in his deal with the company, has been vocal about his desire to get a bump in pay.
“If I were the promoter, I’d be very pissed,” Aldo said. “There’s no way you come talk to me tomorrow and ask for a pay raise if you can’t even fulfill your contract, right? I see that a lot these days. I see young fighters in the UFC that sometimes don’t fulfill what’s in their deals. If you sign an eight-fight contract making X [amount of money], man, you’ll make X during those eight fights, you can’t, after three fights… Or fight for the belt, get a title shot, and then you can say, ‘I deserve to make more because I’m doing this, this and this,’ and show the numbers.
“But to go there and not even make weight, that’s lack of respect. If you can’t [make weight], if it’s tough, move up a division. I say for myself. How many times I got real bad, Dede thinking about calling the doctor to [cancel] the fight and I said no, I always had to make weight and honor what I said. I would make weight no matter how. I got there dragged or carried, it doesn’t matter, but I made weight. I never left the UFC wondering whether or not I would make weight. With all the work, the exhaustion I had to make featherweight, I always went there and did it. I never lacked respect to my opponent, to fans or anyone else.”
Aldo has had his own battles with the UFC for more money in the past, but he was a titleholder for years. That, he explains, is the main difference here. Asked to give an advice to Costa on how to handle this situation better, Aldo said the fellow Brazilian must win a championship belt inside the octagon to gain more leverage.
“First, [he has to] work, understand where he is, to know what he wants in the future,” Aldo said. “That fight, if he had beat [Israel] Adesanya, then he could have gotten to the UFC and said, ‘I want a contract, a champion’s contract,’ and put the number on the table. But the moment you only do a few fights, even if you’re winning and knocking [people] out, that doesn’t explain anything. You have to go there, put on good fights and get to the title shot and then, winning [the belt], you sit down with the UFC and say, ‘Dana, I deserve the contract, I deserves this number, because I’ve showed you.’ You’re giving something back to the company.
“Every time I sat down with Dana and Lorenzo [Fertitta] we always asked [for it] with that in mind. I was the champion, I had a legion of fans in Brazil, both myself and Anderson [Silva] has big names and we deserved it. Every time I got there to talk to Dana, and Dana always defended the side of the company, of course, Dana and Lorenzo always agreed and got to the numbers we wanted. But, first and foremost, I had to do it in the fight. I fought the fight and then sat down with them.”
Check out the complete episode of MMA Fighting’s Portuguese-language podcast Trocação Franca.