Former UFC featherweight champion José Aldo has hit back after coming under criticism for his decision to let ex-Brazil president Jair Bolsonaro stay in his Orlando house.
Bolsonaro has resided in the Aldo-owned home since prior to the new year. The 67-year-old, who was in Brazilian office between 2019 and 2022, fled his home nation following defeat in the election late last year, after which he was placed under investigation stemming from his controversial term in office.
The far-right politician has long been branded as misogynistic and homophobic by many, with a number of his policies and statements coming under criticism. In one notable remark, Bolsonaro told Congresswoman Maria do Rosario, “I wouldn’t rape you because you don’t deserve it.” He later reiterated the comment by describing the politician as “not worth raping; she is very ugly.”
Despite that, Bolsonaro hasn’t been short on support. That includes in the mixed martial arts world, where the likes of Cris Cyborg, Wanderlei Silva, Anderson Silva, Paulo Costa, and Deiveson Figueiredo have all publicly backed the ousted president.
Ahead of his title defense at UFC 283 this weekend, Figueiredo was even seen supporting the Brasília riots and calling for the military to reinstate Bolsonaro.
The most prominent Bolsonaro loyalist, however, has appeared to be Aldo. As well as showing support for the controversial politician prior to both his 2018 and 2022 election campaigns, the MMA great is even housing Bolsonaro in the United States following his defeat to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
Having come under scrutiny ever since, the former UFC and WEC titleholder has now provided his defense.
Aldo Hits Back At Criticism Over Hosting Disgraced Ex-Leader
During a recent appearance on the Flow Podcast, Aldo addressed the decision to allow Bolsonaro refuge at his Orlando home, which has since seen crowds of Brazilians gathering to interact with the former president.
The Brazilian first noted that the Florida residence serves as a holiday destination for his family, as well as a house that they can rent out, rather than his ‘home’. He noted that it serves as an “investment” property that often temporarily houses celebrities.
With that in mind, the now-retired MMA legend insisted that Bolsonaro’s stay is like any other instance of his property being rented out, rather than a special allowance for his nation’s ex-leader.
“I have two (houses). I live in Rio. I never lived there (Orlando). My friends went to America. There, the view is different. It has support and sponsorship. Here in Brazil, you need the family to help,” Aldo said. “My daughter is passionate about Disney. When I bought the house, it was both an investment to rent it out and also for us to go there on vacation.
“I’ve had this house for a while now. It’s all themed, Disney, fights… I lend the house to everyone, not just for Jair. The house has nine rooms, a swimming pool; everything is there. A lot of people ‘fall’ there. Actresses, singers, athletes,” Aldo added. “I lend the house, normal. As the guy called me, I said, ‘Drop at my house.'”
Aldo later explained Bolsonaro’s stay as a “business” opportunity, with the attachment of his name to the house adding extra value to the residence. According to the former UFC star, Brazilians who complain about the move have ‘small minds’.
“People who are against it will beat me. But my move wasn’t thinking about that. Everything you do in your life has its bonuses,” Aldo stated. “The street is always crowded. What about people wanting to rent the house that calls me all day long? There are people who think very small and do not grasp the vision of the business. I saw the deal. I don’t think about whether it’s left or right. At the same time as the Minions room, I want to put a plaque there, ‘Here is the president of Brazil.’
“America has a lot of that. In Las Vegas, I like to stay in the room where Elvis (Presley) stayed. Everyone will want to stay in the same house as the president. ‘Nego’ will feel important too. A Brazilian with a very small mind does not see the business side,” Aldo continued. “I don’t give a damn if they’re going to say A, B or C.”
Beyond just allowing Bolsonaro refuge amid the controversy surrounding the incitement of riots in Brazil’s capital and investigations regarding misconduct during the 67-year-old’s presidency, Aldo’s family has also become involved in a scandal that would suggest his support for the far-right politician goes beyond public endorsement.
Earlier this month, it emerged that Aldo and his wife have been caught up in a scandal surrounding government handouts. It’s alleged that the fighter’s partner, Viviane Pereira Oliveira, wrongly received emergency funds from a collection of money selected to be awarded to the poorest families in Brazil during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a report, Brazilian outlet Extra discovered evidence that showed Aldo’s wife wasn’t eligible for the emergency handouts, which the family received during a period in which they also splashed $700,000 on the Orlando home that currently houses Bolsonaro.
What’s your take on José Aldo’s defense of his decision to let Jair Bolsonaro stay in his Orlando house?