The legacy of Jose Aldo will never be forgotten in mixed martial arts (MMA).
Aldo, 36, put a bow on his storied career shortly after his last appearance at UFC 278 in Aug. 2022. Dropping a lackluster unanimous decision to Merab Dvalishvili, Aldo knew that was it for him as a competitor.
Despite that, Aldo could have had one last big hurrah in Jan. 2023. UFC returns to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the first time post-pandemic on Jan. 21, 2023, and as much as it’s already stacking up with big fights, Aldo had the option to be a part of the festivities.
“We had this last fight [in the deal] and they said we could even choose an easier opponent, let’s put it this way, but no. To me, it was already decided,” Aldo told MMA Fighting. “I’m sad because we could do that farewell in Rio, but I didn’t want to. If you say I have to complete the contract, I would choose the highest-ranked guy, the toughest one, to walk away and test myself because I know I still have what it takes to be at the highest level. But, no. I’m sad for the fans, for the media, everybody thought about this fight, saying goodbye in Rio, but not for me. That was my plan and I won’t walk back. I have a son now, Aldo III, so the idea of fighting doesn’t cross my mind.”
Aldo’s retirement had felt inevitable since his last fight at Featherweight against Alexander Volkanovski in May 2019. Instead, the 145-pound legend decided to drop to Bantamweight for one more historic title run.
It started off roughly for Aldo, losing to Marlon Moraes before getting his shot at gold against Petr Yan, losing that one as well. Looking to finally be done, Aldo then went on to rattle off three straight excellent showings that proved he was still one of the very best.
“I was in my last title run,” Aldo said. “I was hopeful and training well, at my best both physically and technically, and had the intention to become champion, but the moment [I saw] it would no longer be possible to become champion, that’s when I would stop. It was already expected for me, ‘Dede’ [Andre Pederneiras] and my wife. I knew that if the win didn’t come [against Dvalishvili], my career would end. And so it was.”
“Scarface” has no regrets about his great career and how it came to an end. He did make it longer than essentially everyone thought he would after all, including himself.
“For me, I already wanted to stop [before] this final run,” Aldo said. “I sat down with ‘Dede’ after the Petr [Yan] fight in Abu Dhabi, I wanted to stop. He always let time pass and then we would talk. I had a good age at that time, I could still do something else with my life other than continue fighting. But we came back. That’s why I changed my life completely, started training boxing at the Navy and that gave me a push, learning new things, working on a new diet. From that moment I started fighting for others instead of for myself.”
“I’m very competitive and I every time I go in there I will always do my best and want to win, but I was [fighting] for others,” he concluded. “I was coming with all I had to become champion but for others, not myself. I felt that before, to become champion at the highest level, but no name [would have convinced me].”