“When he was down and I [went] to shake his hand and tell him, ‘Thank you so much for the fight,’ and I go to respect him, he was down, and I tried to help him, and he was telling me, he said, ‘That means this is my last fight, because it was my last run to title,’” Dvalishvili said. “And then he said, ‘I guess I’m done.’
“It was a very emotional moment. That’s why I was talking to him. I said, ‘You’re amazing, you did so much, you don’t have anything to prove, you’re a legend – you’re a king.’ I was a little bit heartbroken.”
Aldo did not lay his gloves on the canvas after the pay-per-view fight, the traditional and more official gesture of retirement for fighters, or make any statement confirming his retirement following his loss. MMA Fighting could not immediately reach the former champ for comment.
On Sunday, Aldo posted a message of inspiration for his fans that made no reference to hanging up his gloves.
“We are the story we write,” Aldo wrote. “Take care of every detail of your path, every step, step or curve. Every difficulty and every achievement. He’s a better planner than you. You may even doubt him, but he will always believe in you. He put you in this world to shine. To be better every day. To smile and make people around you smile. What matters is what makes your heart beat. Don’t accept a less amazing life than you deserve. Thank you for all the affection I receive along my walk, this is priceless.
“Who will be in the trenches by your side? – Does it matter? - More than the war itself.”
Dvalishvili’s win this past Saturday marked a new high in his bantamweight career while appearing to delay – if not quash – Aldo’s chance at another belt. The inaugural UFC featherweight champ, once a dominant presence at 145 pounds, hoped to capture a title at 135 pounds after multiple attempts at re-taking the featherweight title ended in losses.
“It’s hard when you see somebody like this,” Dvalishvili said. “As a fighter, I know how hard [it is]. I never want to end my career. I always want to fight. I don’t see when I should retire. But when he realized he lost, he said, ‘That was my last run to title. I guess I’m done.’ That was hard.”
Still, Dvalishvili said he was pleased with his performance despite a muted reaction from UFC President Dana White, who indicated his wrestling-heavy gameplan didn’t do him “a lot of favors” as far as his career. Dvalishvili also declared he would not fight his teammate and friend, UFC bantamweight champ Aljamain Sterling, creating a potential logjam in contenders. Sterling, who’s slated to defend the bantamweight belt against ex-champ T.J. Dillashaw at UFC 280, recently said he may move up to featherweight to give his teammate a shot at the 135-pound title.