RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — Jose Aldo returned to the winning column in great fashion at UFC on FOX 30, stopping Jeremy Stephens in the opening round with a punch to the body.
Back to Brazil after such an impressive victory, Aldo spoke with Brazilian reporters during the launch of his social project at Upper Arena on Friday and discussed his victory, plans for the future with a possible interim title bout with Brian Ortega, Max Holloway’s health, and moving up to fight at lightweight.
The former featherweight champion also talked about Conor McGregor’s post-fight comments, saying he was happy for Aldo, the planned superfight between UFC champions Cris Cyborg and Amanda Nunes, and much more.
Watch the interview above (click on the CC button for English translation) or read the full transcript below.
How good it felt to have your hands raised again? We saw you crying a lot after the fight. How did it feel to get the knockout after all the pressure you had over yourself before the fight?
I think there was pressure. We were coming off two losses, and we were fighting to win. I didn’t care how the fight would be, I only wanted the victory. The emotion was because of some personal factors we have in our heads, but, man, I was really well-trained and focused. We knew that the result would come and it would be now.
Your celebrations always are very emotional, but was this time any different because you were coming off two losses and had that pressure to prove you still are ‘the’ Jose Aldo?
That’s not a pressure from the media, from fans, nothing. I think I have made my history, can’t erase that. I already have a name, a legacy. I think it was something from within, from my family, people close to me that knows what I went through in there. I think this victory brought a comfort not only for myself, but for them. That’s what I wanted. I wanted to win. It was my daughter’s birthday right after and I gave her this present. I think the emotion was complete because of that.
Did you expect to win like that, first-round knockout, or were you expecting a longer, tougher fight?
Man, now I can really say everything I went through on fight week. I knew it would be hard for this fight to last three rounds. Jeremy is a very tough guy, a guy with heavy hands, so the fight could be over if any of us made a mistake. Thank God I could finish it. I had the opportunity to finish it early in the fight. Jeremy hit me with some good punches there and we were able to take it, calm down, because I knew that after that it would be my time. The opportunity came and I was able to connect a good punch and finish the fight.
What are your plans for the future? Dana White said he doesn’t think about an interim title, that he will wait for a definition from Holloway. Are you hoping for a fight with Ortega, maybe for an interim title? What are your expectations?
We’re waiting to see what can happen. First of all, I hope for Max Holloway’s recovery, that he can come back to fighting. But him being out, there’s no other way unless doing this fight straight for the belt and both of us, Brian and I, are at the top. But, man, it’s hard to speculate here, let’s see what happens. First, we have to have Max’s answer to know about the near future and what decisions we have to make.
Conor said he was happy for your victory. How did you see those comments about you?
I was happy, too. I think it’s normal. I think not only myself, but everyone who knows my story… Happiness. Brother, that’s the fight spirit. Fights teach us that. Nothing but fair.
Dede said in an interview that he sees Ortega as a better match-up for you, compared to Max Holloway. Do you agree? What are your thoughts on Ortega as a match-up?
Brian is a great athlete, is getting better, but I leave that to Dede because he understands more than I do. I just get in there and fight.
Did you watch his last fights? Were you impressed?
No, no, I don’t even like watching fights. If we talk about soccer, any other sport, NBA, football, I love it, I follow it. But fighting, if there’s no one from the gym fighting, I usually don’t even watch the event. It’s really hard for me to come here and say something. I leave that for my coaches. We sit down, get everyone together, and watch more of the highlights, his best attacks. That’s with Dede. Whatever Dede thinks, I’m with him.
You said before the fight that you wanted to complete your contract with the UFC and retire. Winning again, especially the way it was, did that change your head a little bit about it, or the plan remains the same?
The plan remains the same because I want to become champion. I want to stop as champion. We’re close, we never stopped being close, so this fight showed that my qualities and potential still are up there. I want to fight for the belt. If I get the title, I’ll stop with the title.
Dede said in the same interview that you moving up to lightweight was always a matter of not cutting much weight than anything else. Do you still think about that possibility in this final run of your career, going after a special fight at lightweight?
I do. Dede has already speculated that for me. If there’s an opportunity, I want it. Not because of the weight cut, but to do a big fight. I think that’s what’s missing in my career, testing myself a little bit against other athletes from other divisions. It would be great. But I’m waiting for a definition in the division so we can make this decision in the future.
If you could choose any fight at featherweight or lightweight, Conor, Holloway, Ortega, who would you choose?
I leave that for Dede because he chooses better than me. To me, whoever they put in there, from bantamweight to heavyweight, I want to fight. No matter who the opponent is, I want to fight. I do this. This is my job, fighting, so I want to go there and always fight the best.
Brazilians were celebrating your victory in a way I haven’t seen in a long time. Do you think you’re the biggest idol in Brazilian MMA?
In Brazilian MMA, it’s possible. I think I can be considered the biggest today because everybody is stopping and others are coming up. Today I think Aldo has the strongest name. Like I always said, I respect everybody, but this is the moment. Man, I’m happy for the love I receive, the millions of messages of love I receive. That motivates me to train hard and keep winning and going for the top.
You met Joanna after the event, and you are two former champions who are trying to recapture the title. Did you guys talk about it, this similar position you both are now?
We’ve been talking way before, we haven’t only met now. We took pictures because we fought on the same card now, but I’ve known her for a long time. The only times I didn’t root for her was when she fought someone from our team, or if she gets to fight again, but I have a great relationship with her. To me, she still is the best athlete in her division. I see her becoming champion in the near future. I think it’s a matter of time because she has the potential and the desire for that.
How do you see this fight between Brazilian champions Cris Cyborg and Amanda Nunes that will probably happen soon?
Man, it’s tough to see a fight between Brazilians. I like them both, I know them both, but I think Cris Cyborg still is way ahead. I know Amanda, she has a good boxing and everything, but I don’t see anyone beating Cyborg. Cyborg is my friend, I’m closer to her, so I’m rooting for Cyborg. Anyone who fights Cyborg can be sure that you will be smashed. Brother, if you put her to fight a man, I think she would give trouble to any male featherweight in the UFC.
Dede and Emerson Falcao mentioned in an interview after the fight that you thought about accepting a fine and not making weight to get rid of the weight cut this time. How was the thought process of accepting a fine and not making weight?
It’s good you brought that up. I usually am the guy that has the easiest weight cut in the gym. I don’t have much difficulties. I usually am on weight, and make weight well, but I always do some theatrics on Friday morning, before the weigh-ins. Everybody knows I’ll do that and make weight. I’m always joking. One time Dede took all the clocks and cell phones off the room so I wouldn’t be able to control the time. I usually want to do the last bath tub and go downstairs right away to weigh in. There’s no difficulties in making weight. Everyone around me knows there’s always some theatrics. Dede always takes one of the guys to be there because he leaves the room and comes back when it’s time to make weight. It’s not that I have difficulties making weight, it’s something I’ve been doing for a long time. I wanted to test myself at lightweight because of that, because I’m losing weight and always making weight ever since I started in jiu-jitsu, but this time I felt physically better to make weight. There was no complications. I always do some theatrics. This time was with Emerson. It was always with Marlon, who was always there with me, chatting. This time was Emerson, and then he wanted to beat me.
Dede mentioned he had to say that fighters who miss weight usually lose, that he created this statistic to convince you to make weight.
Bullsh*t, I already knew that everybody that misses weight wins the fight. We have that in our minds. Man, thank God we have everything scheduled when we go there. He was left with no argument when I responded to him. I was in the bathtub and he went there to talk to me and I would respond, and everyone was laughing. It was funny that he came to say those things and I would say it’s a lie. We knew what was going on, but that’s normal. There was this time that I was going to the bathtub when Reed, who’s always with us, entered the room and I threw myself on the ground saying I was too weak. But then he asked me to weigh in and I told him to get out, went to the bathtub with Leo and made weight. Everybody knows that. If you ask anyone at Nova Uniao, they all ask ‘how was the theatrics this time?’ It’s cool, I’m used to that already.