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Coach: Jose Aldo has to be on list of greats alongside GSP, Silva, DC

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CALGARY, Alberta — On Saturday, Jose Aldo competes in a non-title fight for the first time nine years. It’s a staggering note to take into account ahead of his co-main event bout with Jeremy Stephens at UFC on FOX 30 here at the Scotiabank Saddledome, and one that serves as a reminder of how high the stakes have been for him ever since he first stepped foot in the Octagon.

MMA Fighting spoke to Aldo’s head coach Andre Pederneiras on Thursday at a media day for UFC on FOX 30, and acknowledged that Aldo is sometimes overlooked in the discussion of all-time greats. The combat sports business can be a “what have you done for me lately” business and Aldo, with just one win in his last four fights, is the odd man out when it comes to discussing all-time greats like Anderson Silva or Georges St-Pierre, or even recent dual-division champions Conor McGregor and Daniel Cormier.

Pederneiras favors the lengthy reigns of Aldo, Silva, and St-Pierre to the accumulation of titles.

“If you’re asking all these guys maybe just Anderson and St-Pierre stay with the belt for so long like him,” said Pederneiras. “Cormier has won right now, but I don’t think he’ll stay for so long to defend his title like (Aldo). And I think for a guy to be among the best, the greats — you know he defended his title for a long time against many different guys.

“I’m not saying that Cormier isn’t great, but I say Aldo needs to be on the same list. That’s my opinion.”

Aldo’s accolades are undeniable. He joined the UFC with an 18-1 record after conquering World Extreme Cagefighting and defending that promotion’s title twice. He was promoted to UFC champion when the WEC was absorbed by the UFC and went on to record seven consecutive successful championship defenses before losing his first belt to McGregor.

Though “Dede” has stepped down as the head of Nova Uniao, he still coaches Aldo and watches him as closely as ever. The 31-year-old fighter is looking to snap the first losing streak of his career after dropping back-to-back fights to Max Holloway.

In their first meeting, at UFC 212, Holloway beat Aldo for a featherweight championship via TKO, and he repeated the feat six months later at UFC 218, also by TKO.

That leaves Aldo preparing for a three-round bout, a position that is unfamiliar to him but one that Pederneiras thinks is beneficial for his fighter from a mental and physical standpoint.

“I think for him it’s good because for nine years you train for five rounds, you cut the weight for 145, many people think just one pound, but just one pound when it’s so close, when you cut a lot of weight, it’s hard. It’s really hard,” said Pederneiras. “Now he’s more comfortable about the weight, about the time in training and I think he’s really good for this fight.”

Pederneiras still thinks that featherweight is the ideal division for Aldo, which jibes with the former champion’s reluctance to move up a class regardless of the weight cutting problems he’s had before.

“I think 145 is the best for him,” said Pederneiras. “He talks a lot about cutting weight because he cut the weight so many years and because all the time he’s got to promote.

“But I think the bigger problem for him is in his mind, ‘Oh my God, I need to do it again and again.’ That’s the big problem for him because he wants to move up to 155, but I think for his size, the best weight is 145. He can fight at 155 too, but 145 is the best weight for him.”

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