Jose Aldo became one of the dominant champions in the sport with 145 pounds. | Photo: Dave Mandel
Twelve consecutive opponents tried and failed to solve the violent puzzle that is UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo. At 5 ft-7, he casts an imposing shadow over the 145-pound split with his mesmerizing blend of speed, technique and power.
Almost universally considered one of the top five pound-for-pound fighters in MMA, Aldo will put his 12-game winning streak in play, along with the featherweight crown, when he collides with two-time lightweight title contender Kenny Florian in co UFC 136 main event “Edgar vs. Maynard 3 ”this Saturday at the Toyota Center in Houston.
In this exclusive interview with Sherdog.com, the 25-year-old Brazilian discusses his next title defense, the criticisms he received following the unanimous decision victory over Mark Hominick at UFC 129, dealing with his newfound fame, the idea of fighting more often and the impact that mentors like the founder of Nova União, André Pederneiras, and UFC veteran Pedro Rizzo, have had on his life and career.
Aldo: It was strong. My trainer, André Pederneiras, was always there to accompany my preparation. He wants me to go strong in the fight. Everything went according to plan. We made the script in advance and I said that I wanted to be well prepared for this fight. If Florian is not ready, I will leave him behind.
Aldo: I think they say that because of his experience, having fought in three divisions, disputed the title and so on. He was always among the top fighters, but that will change when we start fighting. I will show my work. I respect all those who fight for the title, but I am confident, well trained, improving every day. Let’s see what happens.
Aldo: I think my last fight was good and well fought, but everyone got the impression that I was tired in the last round and that didn’t happen. So I’m focused on going there, presenting well and leaving no doubts. I received several criticisms
[after fighting Hominick] and I learned to get used to it. They talked about things I don’t agree with, but I tried to take advantage of what they said.
Aldo: To be honest, it was a little difficult. I thought I was prepared, but the routine is very heavy, especially the commitments outside the fights. “Dede” [Pederneiras] takes care of things and my wife helps me too. They help me, especially with sponsorships, [saying], “You have to have a cap here, a shirt there.” I’m not used to it yet and I even apologize for not wearing a shirt or cap. I try to keep my balance and think about every move I make. Some things that I did, I can’t do anymore, but it’s part of the job.
Aldo: There were two moments. At WEC, many saw the event and liked it a lot. [The UFC] rocks in the media and fan business … everything has changed completely. Before, I went to the mall and few people knew me. Today, I have to stop to take pictures and sign autographs for a lot of people.
Aldo: That was also complicated (laughs). I always liked to play – those who know me know that I always liked to play – but I had to change my way of speaking, so as not to publish nonsense. I have to have another image. I’m a public person. In addition, I consulted friends like Pedro Rizzo, who went through similar situations, and learned to act.
Aldo: I’ve always fought a lot. During my time at WEC, I came to do two fights in less than a month. I understand a little. Being the champion, they have to put me in certain events to have bigger returns, but I would like to fight more often and I ask to fight again in December. Three fights in a year is good to recover and get back to training in the right way.
Aldo: In the beginning I saw Pedro destroying everyone in the UFC and I wanted to be like him. He was my mirror. I wanted to break everyone, too, using the muay thai techniques I learned from him. He is my idol and, at that moment, I wanted to be like him. Today I am the champion and he is on my side and it’s awesome. He’s a striker and he fought in the UFC, so he gives me a lot of advice. I am always talking to him to learn and not to fall into the mistakes he made. Dede is everything. He always believed in my work, saying that I would be champion. I have always worked focusing on what he teaches. My wife has been with me since the beginning. Today, we laugh at the difficulties of the past. We have gone through many difficult times. These people are everything to me.
Aldo: UFC in Rio was a dream come true. I never cared what the fans shouted, mainly because I didn’t understand. Now, seeing the Brazilian public calling the name of Brazilians, I felt our strength. It reaches our desire to fight for family, friends, everyone. I think there will be another event there next year, and I hope to be there.