Jose Aldo is willing to adapt his schedule for a fight with former UFC bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw, but not for fellow MMA legend Dominick Cruz.
Aldo, an ex-UFC champion himself, scored a big win over Pedro Munhoz at UFC 265 and immediately asked for a fight with Dillashaw for December. Dillashaw’s knee surgery in the aftermath of his win over Cory Sandhagen and his title aspirations jeopardized those plans.
Aldo wants to “leave a legacy, build a cool story, so when I retire I can look back and see we’ve built something nice,” he said in an interview with MMA Fighting. Having Dillashaw added to his stellar resume would be significant for his future plans, therefore the Nova Uniao star is open to waiting until 2022 for a No. 1 contender clash with Dillashaw.
“I want to climb step-by-step,” Aldo said. “I may have bitten off more than I could chew [early in my bantamweight run] but it happens, you aim big and hit big. But it’s different now, we’re going step-by-step, adapting to the division. After this great fight, I want to put on another great performance by December.
“Dillashaw is the focus,” he continued. “If it’s early next year, I can wait too. I’ll leave that up to ‘Dede’ [coach Andre Pederneiras] to deal with. I want to fight by December or January, tops. With another great fight and win, we can get closer to the belt.”
Aldo has a plan B in case Dillashaw gets the next crack at the gold versus the winner of Aljamain Sterling vs. Petr Yan 2, which goes down Oct. 30 in Abu Dhabi — and it’s not a “legacy fight” with fellow WEC star Cruz, one he asked for back in March.
“I heard some reporters talking about this fight [with Cruz] but I think we’re both going different directions,” Aldo said. “He’s more dedicated to [UFC] broadcasts than his own fighting career. I don’t think about fighting Dominick today. I respect him, I also like him for the fact he’s one of the greatest bantamweight champions, but right now I’m heading towards the title. There’s no reason why I’ll stop and do a fight that will take me nowhere. It’s more likely for me to fight Rob Font than Dominick Cruz.”
The Brazilian veteran had a shot at the 135-pound championship in 2020 despite coming off of a split decision defeat to Marlon Moraes in his divisional debut, but came up short against Yan in Abu Dhabi. That said, Aldo sees no issue getting another chance, even in the event that Yan regains the UFC title later this year.
“Right now, the moment we’re going through, we’ll earn it,” Aldo said. “It’s not hard, especially because Petr and Sterling, whoever has the belt, my name will always be way bigger and draw way more attention. But it’s a whole other story now, right? We’re doing our homework, preparing right, winning fights step-by-step and earning a title shot. There’s no reason why it wouldn’t happen. It doesn’t matter. I’ve earned it, I’m beating everyone.
“And I want to win and leave no doubt that it’s not due to my name or the fact that I’m the greatest featherweight champion, I’ll earn it through my merits and achievements and the wins I’ll get. I know I’ll be the next challenger when I win my next fight regardless [of who’s the champion].”
Aldo sees no favorites in the Sterling vs. Yan rematch after the first one ended with a controversial disqualification. He doesn’t care either.
“Whoever that is, Sterling or Petr, there’s no problem,” Aldo said. “Either one of them being the champion today still won’t be bigger than me.
“Everybody sees a win for Petr in the next fight, but him losing to me and Dillashaw.”