Jose Aldo carried the UFC on his shoulders in Brazil for nearly a decade as one of the biggest stars in the country. And now that the two-time featherweight champion has retired from the sport, he sees potential in three names to be the new faces of the company in his home country.
The first name to pop in his mind is Charles Oliveira, who will attempt to regain the lightweight championship when he faces Islam Makhachev in the main event of UFC 280 this Saturday in Abu Dhabi. Oliveira is nearing 5 million followers on Instagram, more than any other MMA fighter in Brazil.
“It’s a complicated fight for him,” Aldo said on a recent episode of MMA Fighting podcast Trocação Franca about the main event of UFC 280. “Charles has great jiu-jitsu, but I’ve never seen anyone grapple with Makhachev and have the advantage. Even Khabib [Nurmagomedov], they have slick jiu-jitsu, a very efficient ground game.”
Oliveira holds many records in the UFC, including most submission wins in company history ahead of names like Demian Maia, Royce Gracie and Nurmagomedov himself, but Aldo expects him to come out victorious with his striking.
“On the ground, with all due respect, I think Makhachev will have the advantage,” Aldo said. “But I think Charles wins knocking him out on the feet.”
Aldo seemed excited for what the future holds for Jailton Almeida, who currently holds a 3-0 record in the UFC with a trio of first-round finishes competing at 205 pounds and heavyweight. “Malhadinho” will return to the cage in a 220-pound catchweight bout against Maxim Grishin on Nov. 5.
“There’s a guy people don’t talk too much yet but I believe will be champion, and that’s ‘Malhadinho,’” he said. “I see myself a lot in him for the fact he wants to fight all the time, in different weight classes, with the dream of becoming champion and getting to the top quickly. This guy has huge potential to be fighting there [at the top] and becoming a star in Brazil soon. It doesn’t matter when, he knocks [somebody] out and asks for another one right away. You don’t see people talking about him that much, but I think he’ll go far.”
The veteran also believes light heavyweight contender Glover Teixeira can reach a level of stardom in Brazil despite his advanced age, but sees huge potential in his teammate Alex Pereira, who challenges Israel Adesanya for the middleweight throne at UFC 281 at New York’s Madison Square Garden on Nov. 12.
“The little experience he has, I think he can become a star, too,” Aldo said. “I respect Adesanya, a great champion who is improving and getting smarter every time he enters the octagon, but I’m picking ‘Poatan.’ He already beat him in kickboxing – but, to me, it means nothing. They will meet in a new world now, very more versatile, where Adesanya has a bit more experience, but I’m picking ‘Poatan.’”