Aldo, who is widely regarded as one of the greatest mixed martial artists to have ever entered the Octagon, was last in action at UFC 265 earlier this month. Against fellow Brazilian bantamweight contender Pedro Munhoz, “Junior” hoped to take a step closer to earning a second championship opportunity at 135 pounds. With a comfortable and impressive display, the former featherweight champ did exactly that.
Now riding a two-fight winning streak, many have suggested Aldo is close to his best, and could well be enjoying a second peak.
But according to Khabib Nurmagomedov, that isn’t the case. The former UFC Lightweight Champion, who’s retired from the sport despite being two years younger than the Brazilian, hasn’t seen any evidence to suggest Aldo is on his way back to his best. The Russian star has previously maintained that it isn’t possible to peak twice in MMA.
Speaking during a Gorilla Energy press conference, “The Eagle” responded to a reporter who suggested his theory was proved wrong by Aldo’s performance on August 7.
“How is he showing it? He got beat up when he fought… Who’d he fight? He fought Petr (Yan) right? A guy wins one fight and everyone starts talking.” (h/t LowKickMMA)
To hammer home his point, Khabib brought up his arch-rival Conor McGregor. The Dagestani highlighted that people also suggested the Irishman was on his way to the top again after his victory over veteran campaigner Donald Cerrone, something which has been quickly dismissed following two defeats against Dustin Poirier in 2021.
“When Conor fought Cowboy he looked like a lion. When he fights stronger opponents, he looks like scared chicken. Fighting top fighters shows your worth. Like I said – the level of Russia’s football team will be shown against Croatia, not Malta. A fight against Cowboy won’t show what level you’re at. Just like Aldo’s fight against Pedro Munhoz.”
Khabib added that in order for Aldo to have peaked again, he must put in a better performance against the likes of Petr Yan than he did at UFC 251 last July. But in the 32-year-old’s expert view, there’s 0 chance of that happening.
“Let him fight Petr Yan in the same way then we can say he’s peaking again. You saw what he did, he closed up and waited for the ref to stop the fight. That shows that you’re not at your peak. If you’re getting hit and you’re conscious and you’re not defending yourself, I call those fighters businessmen, they come out to make money. There are real champions who go hard on everyone. They don’t care about how the money, of course, it’s an important aspect but he has the competitive spirit.
“There’s no way Aldo’s having a second peak. You can try to prove it all you want but I’ve been through this. I know better, thank you, you’re a journalist and I’m a fighter,” said Khabib.
After his reign of dominance in the featherweight division came to an end in 2015, Aldo experienced a period of inconsistency before making the switch to 135 pounds in an effort to revitalize his career.
Despite two losses to Marlon Moraes and Yan, “Junior” has had his hand raised in his last two fights, and will be looking to move to a positive bantamweight record with a win next time out.
After the successful return of TJ Dillashaw at UFC Vegas 32 last month, Aldo revealed his desire to secure a meeting with the former champ in the near future. Despite being open to the clash, Dillashaw recently suggested his sights are set on the 135-pound gold first. Perhaps with another win for both men, the Brazilian legend could be challenging the 35-year-old for the title in 2022.
Do you agree with Khabib Nurmagomedov? Or do you think José Aldo can have another peak in the UFC?