Jose Aldo, who has given some conflicting statements to the media over the last few months regarding his fighting future, gave an in-depth interview to MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani to clear the air.
In the interview, the current UFC Featherweight Champion denied that he turned down any fights, stating that he took fights with Frankie Edgar and Chad Mendes while his wife was pregnant or with a newborn at home. He did concede that a short-notice rematch with Conor McGregor last March at UFC 196 was turned down, but by his coach Andre Pederneiras and not by Aldo himself.
Aldo also shared that he was led to believe by UFC that he would be fighting McGregor at UFC 205 in New York City, only to wake up one day and see that the fight went to Eddie Alvarez. Aldo said that he sat down with Dana White to express his frustrations. He said that White told him, “I tried to make the fight. [Conor] doesn’t want to fight you. I can’t force [Conor] to fight you. You and I, Jose, we want this rematch to happen. But he’s not saying yes.”
Aldo was also clear in his intentions to fight out his contract and then pursue other opportunities outside of UFC and all of MMA. “I’ve had a long-time dream to try my hand at boxing,” Aldo said. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to give a shot. Also, soccer. I’ve always had a passion for soccer.” He also disclosed that he has five or six fights left on his contract and when asked if he intends to leave once his current contract is up, Aldo replied, “Yeah, of course.”
Perhaps the biggest piece of information Aldo dropped was regarding his next fight, and it won’t be Feb. 11 against Max Holloway. “The Brooklyn fight is not happening,” he told Helwani. “I now expect and believe I will be fighting in early March. Either March 3 or March 4, I can’t remember. I believe they will soon announce an Interim Lightweight Title fight with me. They’ve been trying to find me an opponent, and – surprise, surprise – at least one has already turned down the fight against me. I’m waiting to see who they will find.”
One would assume that the Interim Lightweight Title fight would be against either Tony Ferguson or Khabib Nurmagomedov, two top lightweights who both have a case to be number one contender. The addition of an interim title also all but confirms that McGregor isn’t expected to be fighting again anytime soon.
Ariel Helwani took to Twitter Tuesday night to say that he fact-checked many of Aldo’s claims and that they are consistent with what he was told by others.
Based on the interview, it appears UFC has mended fences with Jose Aldo enough to get him fighting again, but his time left in UFC may be limited.
Hiscoe’s Analysis: Another meaningless title fight is absolutely not what UFC needs early next year. That will make three quite weak “championship” main events in four pay-per-views between the Interim Featherweight Title fight at UFC 206, the new Women’s Featherweight Championship fight set for UFC 208, and now yet another interim title fight, this time at lightweight, apparently being targeted for UFC 209.
UFC should focus on building up and marketing new stars rather than inventing new championships in order to headline shows. An easy remedy for this would be to run fewer shows, and that’s been talked about but doesn’t look to be happening in the near future. Diluting the value of a UFC championship hurts all title fights in the long run and retroactively diminishes accomplishments of current and former champions. I can see that the end game of this is to set up Aldo vs. McGregor at lightweight, but they don’t need to mortgage the value of their championships, including the one McGregor currently holds, in order to get there.
WEDNESDAY NEWS DIGEST
-Mark Hunt vs. Alistair Overeem has reportedly been verbally agreed to for UFC 209 on March 4 from Las Vegas, but Ariel Helwani tweeted that the fight isn’t a lock as Mark Hunt still wants the clause that his opponent will lose his entire purse if he fails a drug test put into the fight contract.
-Anthony Pettis does not have a broken right hand, according to Ariel Helwani. Pettis appeared to injure it early in his fight with Max Holloway at UFC 206, but will not require surgery.
-Chael Sonnen had the following to say on his podcast regarding the firing of Chuck Liddell and Matt Hughes, while retaining the services of Forrest Griffin: “The UFC was getting some bad PR for not looking after their fighters, and they also wanted to give the guys who did carry lifting early on some jobs that last forever. Chuck got the first one, and it’s $30K a month, and he doesn’t have to do anything. This is before the police ran him out of San Luis Obispo, so he wasn’t even in the state. Matt Hughes still isn’t in the state, he lives on the farm in Illinois. These are literally fake jobs. They give a job to Forrest, and he takes one look at it and decides to take the job seriously. He shows up at 9:00 am on Monday morning and they don’t even have an office for him because it wasn’t a real job. He just kept coming in, and then he started sitting in on meetings. If anyone was gonna keep the job, it’s Forrest because he has contributed.”
FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENT ROUNDUP
-Marcos Rogerio de Lima vs. John Phillips at UFC on Fox from Denver on Jan. 28.
-The full Invicta FC 21 lineup is now set for Jan. 14 from Kansas City, MO.:
Megan Anderson vs. Charmaine Tweet
DeAnna Bennett vs. Jodie Esquibel
Pannie Kianzad vs. Raquel Pa’aluhi
Aspen Ladd vs. Sijara Eubanks
Andrea Lee vs. Jenny Liou
Brieta Carpenter vs. Heather Hardy
Celine Haga vs. Amy Montenegro
Christine Ferea vs. Rachael Ostovich