Those who have been following Jeremy Stephens leading into his UFC on Fox 30 co-main event against José Aldo can easily detect the company man that Stephens is. Not only was he willing to step up within days’ notice to face Brian Ortega at UFC 226, but the 10-plus year UFC veteran often speaks about future plans in the promotion, as if he is just getting settled in after spending over a decade in the promotion. Meanwhile, his opponent, José Aldo, has consistently spoken with less enthusiasm about his long-term future with the promotion. This week was no different.
”No, I don’t think so,” Aldo told MMA Fighting when asked if he plans on signing a new deal with the UFC. “It doesn’t cross my mind to sign a new contract after.”
Naturally, this begs the question for fans (and betters) what kind of Aldo will they be getting if he already has one foot out the door and the other foot is in the loved and long-welled-in backyard of a hungry heathen who has vowed to take his opponent’s soul. Aldo insists that knowing his UFC career is coming to an end will actually serve as a benefit for him in the Octagon:
“I think it’s easier because you know it’s coming near the end, so you have to give your all because you don’t want to go out on a loss, you want to go out on top,” Aldo said. “It’s a lot easier seeing the end of the tunnel and working harder because you know it’s coming to the end.
”I dream of being champion and dream going out as champion. That’s my biggest motivation. … I take much pride in winning, I don’t accept losses, so I’m always going after that. The day I lose this fire, I think it’s time for us to stop.”
The question many may have is whether Aldo still has the fire present day, since “stopping” is something he has already committed to doing in the near future. But when the end does come for Aldo, whether it is this Sunday or after he has concluded the three remaining fights on his contract, Aldo is secure in his legacy:
“I think I leave a good legacy for new athletes who are coming up,” Aldo said. “There are new people at featherweight, bantamweight, lightweight, any other weight class that is inspired by the legacy I’m leaving.”
What version of José Aldo do you expect to see at UFC on Fox 30 when he takes on Jeremy Stephens?