The goal for Jose Aldo when he stepped into the cage at UFC 278 this last Saturday couldn’t have been clearer. The former featherweight champion and bantamweight title contender has had only one thing in mind over his recent three-fight unbeaten streak: get back to UFC gold.
“When we first started, I told Dede (Pederneiras, Aldo’s coach) that at 35 I’d be champion and I’d retire,” Aldo said in an interview back in July. “That is why I say that I’m very close to retiring, though I used to say I’d retire as a champion.”
With his 36th birthday less than a month away now, and his immediate title hopes seemingly scuppered in the wake of a unanimous decision loss to Merab Dvalishvili, it just may be that fans have seen the Brazilian MMA legend in the Octagon for the last time. That’s certainly the narrative that Dvalishvili is spinning following his victory. In a recent interview on the MMA Hour the Serra-Longo talent revealed that Aldo told him that he’d fought his “last fight” after the conclusion of their bout.
“When he was down and I [went] to shake his hand and tell him, ‘Thank you so much for the fight,’ and I go to respect him, he was down, and I tried to help him, and he was telling me, he said, ‘That means this is my last fight, because it was my last run to title,’” Dvalishvili said (transcript via MMA Fighting). “And then he said, ‘I guess I’m done.’
“It was a very emotional moment. That’s why I was talking to him. I said, ‘You’re amazing, you did so much, you don’t have anything to prove, you’re a legend – you’re a king.’ I was a little bit heartbroken.”
Aldo has released his own statement following the loss, thanking those around him “for all the affection I receive along my walk…” but the longtime Nova Uniao stalwart has yet to make any public comment on the future of his career.
If this truly is the last time fans see Aldo in the cage, then he’ll unquestionably retire as one of the greatest featherweights—and perhaps even pure MMA talents—of all time. Though, if there’s ever been one constant in the MMA world, it’s that fighters often find it much harder to leave the sport behind than they expect. Who knows? It may just be that a few months away will find Aldo feeling the itch to get back in the cage and compete once again.
About the author