The last two years have quite possibly been the strangest in the entire career of former dominant UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo
Having lost his 145-pound title and saw a ten-year unbeaten run ended in 13-seconds against Conor McGregor at UFC 194, Aldo was forced to embark on a steady period of soul-searching.
The manner of his loss to McGregor and the mental warfare inflicted on him in the run-up to the fight in Las Vegas (which was rescheduled due to the Brazilian’s injury following a mammoth promotional world tour) both clearly affected Aldo. Almost every interview or sound bite associated with “Scarface” usually contained some type of threat, insult or absolute disgust towards the Irishman. Many claimed that he was mentally broken, prophesizing the end for the first and only 145-pound champ in the UFC until the night of Dec. 12, 2015.
Aldo took some time to lick his wounds and accepted a bout at UFC 200 the following summer, beating one of the best fighters to have ever graced the lower weights of the UFC, Frankie Edgar, in a calculated and cerebral manner. Aldo’s reward was the UFC interim featherweight title, which promised him a path to a rematch and retribution against McGregor. While “The Notorious” opted for a welterweight rematch in the wake of his first promotional loss against Nate Diaz, before winning the lightweight title and being stripped of his 145-pound strap, Aldo was promoted to the undisputed champ.
The Brazilian’s first defense was against streaking featherweight Max Holloway, who had lost his last fight to McGregor prior to notching up a 10-0 record heading into the UFC 212 bout. Aldo was beaten and dethroned for the 2nd time in just three fights.
Ahead of the rematch with the champion (a fight which was only made possible with Edgar pulling out with injury) the 31-year-old appears to be in the best mental and physical shape for some time:
“It wasn’t really a matter of accepting this fight. I had already been training for another fight,” Aldo said during a recent UFC 218 media call. “I have to thank Max for accepting it, but it really wasn’t a matter of me accepting it, I was ready to go.
“I think that the first fight was great and I think that we gave our all, we both came out as champions. And it’s a sport, you can’t predict what’s going to happen. You can’t count on exactly what’s going to happen,” he admitted.
“I don’t see necessarily any mistakes. I think that I had my chances in the fight and Max had his chances and was able to finish the fight, so there’s really not much to be said. I think it was a great fight and I think that the fans are the ones who won.”
For Aldo, his shot at redeeming himself to himself is the prime motivation behind his preparations ahead of Saturday night:
“I think this is a new chapter in my story. I think that there’s a lot that can be said and I want to win this title and I want to finish my fights off in the UFC. I want to finish those off as a champion, so I want to honor that contract, but this is a new stage in my career.”