Having fallen short of capturing gold in a second weight class against Petr Yan in 2020, Aldo began what appeared to be an unlikely resurgence towards the top. After going through Marlon Vera, Pedro Munhoz, and Rob Font, the Brazilian appeared one victory away from another bantamweight title shot.
But against Merab Dvalishvili at UFC 278 last month, Aldo was controlled en route to a defeat on the scorecards. Having taken time to assess his future following the immediate discussion many engaged in post-fight, “Junior” decided to call time on his illustrious career with one bout remaining on his contract.
Since the announcement, fighters, fans, and pundits alike have paid tribute to Aldo and his immense accomplishments in the cage. The latest to do so was the UFC president, who was asked about Aldo’s departure at the post-fight press conference following this week’s episode of Dana White’s Contender Series.
While he often refrains from labelling a single moment in a retiring fighter’s career as his favorite, White had something in mind for the former featherweight champion.
“Those are always hard for me, but yes, I actually do with him,” White said. “I think that time, I think the fight was in Rio, when he jumped out of the Octagon and jumped in the crowd, and the crowd was carrying him around. The place was going nuts. One of my favorite José Aldo moments… security doesn’t love it, but I do.”
The moment came back in 2012 when Aldo put his 145-pound gold on the line at UFC 142 in front of his home fans in Rio de Janeiro. Against Chad Mendes, the Brazilian star secured a first-round knockout after landing a knee with just one second of the round remaining.
Creating what is now one of the most iconic images and pieces of footage from his 39-fight career, Aldo leapt into the adoring crowd and celebrated with his compatriots.
White Praises Retired Aldo For ‘Helping To Build The Sport’
After being promoted to UFC featherweight champion following the WEC’s merger with the promotion, Aldo went about forging one of the greatest reigns and win streaks seen inside the Octagon.
Having already won 11 straight, “Junior” extended his streak to 18 with seven consecutive UFC title defenses, including against Chan Sung Jung and Frankie Edgar. For that, Aldo is widely regarded as the greatest 145lber of all time.
Describing the admiration he and the promotion has for Aldo, White credited the Brazilian great as a major part in helping to build the sport of MMA and the UFC’s presence in South America.
“We love him, man. This will always be his house,” White said. “I told him, ‘If you ever need anything here, you ever wanna go to an event, this is always your house.’ This is a guy that, you know, from the WEC to the UFC, helped build the sport, this brand, and Brazil for us. We love him and we always will. He’s made a great life for himself down there and done some great things. He’s made a lot of money, and I couldn’t be happier for him and his family.”
What’s your favorite moment from the legendary career of José Aldo?