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Jose Aldo: Floyd Mayweather exhibition still in talks, but focus is on Jeremy Stephens

Jose Aldo
Marcell Fagundes, Shooto Brasil

Jose Aldo still wants to box legendary champion Floyd Mayweather later this year, but that’s not his main concern right now.

The former UFC and WEC featherweight champion said this week on MMA Fighting’s Trocação Franca that Ali Abdelaziz has joined Andre Pederneiras as his manager in the boxing scene and he’s still discussing a possible Mayweather showdown in Saudi Arabia. For now, Aldo currently is slated to box Jeremy Stephens at Saturday’s Gamebred Boxing 4 event in Milwaukee, and he won’t allow himself to think past “Lil’ Heathen.”

“I’m only training here,” Aldo said. “I forget all that [with Mayweather] for a bit because my next step is the Jeremy match, so I can’t think of anything else. After my performance on Saturday, not only the Mayweather one, we’ll get new offers for us [to box].”

According to Aldo, the original plan for Gamebred Boxing 4 was a clash with Artem Lobov, but it didn’t come to fruition. With the Mayweather match potentially looming, Aldo explained why he’s not considering facing former boxing champion Acelino Freitas, one of Brazil’s most popular boxers who has called him out consistently over the past few years.

“It makes no sense at all,” Aldo said. “I’ve boxed in Brazil [in my debut] because it was part of our plan to adapt before flying higher. We had that plan, and going back to fighting in Brazil makes no sense.”

Freitas recently competed in two exhibition matches in Brazil, toying with popular YouTuber Whindersson Nunes and then viciously dismantling MMA veteran Jose Landi-Jons in just 85 seconds.

“[The purse] we’re getting paid now is bigger than some people had in the UFC or other promotions. Can’t compare to what [he’s made] in Brazil,” Aldo said. “We fight for what is right, not for what could happen. If Brazil had the pay-per-view culture or selling out arenas like in America, I would think of fighting in Brazil, but it doesn’t cross my mind right now.

“My next challenge is on Saturday and I want to put on a great performance because that’s how we’ll continue to fight great athletes in America.”

Aldo met Emmanuel Zambrano in his boxing debut this past February in Rio de Janeiro, defeating the Argentine boxer in a six-round decision at Shooto Boxing. Aldo wasn’t paid good money for it, but that wasn’t the plan either. However, he admits he felt pressured to deliver since the Stephens match was already officially announced for April.

“I had to put on a good performance and have a great debut to convince everybody,” Aldo said. “I had a little fear of [the fight] not going the way I expected and frustrating the next step we had in mind, knowing we already had the next [match] booked — and [Stephens] is way tougher than the debut [opponent].”

Aldo and Stephens have met before in MMA, with the Brazilian winning via first-round knockout inside the octagon back in 2018. Aldo went on to win four of his next eight UFC appearances, battling Petr Yan for the vacant bantamweight title in the process, before retiring in 2022 to compete in boxing.

“It’s a new story,” Aldo said of fighting Stephens a second time. “We’re facing off now and it has nothing to do with what we did for years in the UFC or any other promotion he’s fighting in right now. I think he’s not thinking of what happened before. We’re going to box, it’s completely different now.”

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