Jose Aldo explains why no opponent would convince him to push back MMA retirement


Jose Aldo is “very happy and satisfied with everything I did in MMA, especially in the UFC,” and that’s why he hung up his gloves following a decision defeat to Merab Dvalishvili in August.

The former UFC and WEC featherweight champion, one of the best to ever compete in the sport, said on a recent episode of MMA Fighting podcast Trocacao Franca he always set out to retire at age 35.

“I was in my last title run,” Aldo said. Aldo said, “I had been hopeful, training hard, doing my best physically and technically and was determined to be champion. But the day [I saw] that it wasn’t possible to become champion would mean that I would have to stop. It was already expected for me, ‘Dede’ [Andre Pederneiras] and my wife. I knew that if the win didn’t come [against Dvalishvili], my career would end. And so it was.”

Aldo had one fight left in his deal with the UFC, but company president Dana White agreed to grant him clearance to compete in other sports, such as boxing, if he chooses to in the future. The Brazilian explained why he turned down an offer to compete one final time inside the octagon at UFC 283, which is set to take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Jan. 21.

“We had this last fight [in the deal] and they said we could even choose an easier opponent, let’s put it this way, but no. To me, it was already decided,” he said. He said, “I am sad that we couldn’t do that farewell to Rio. But I didn’t want it.” If I had to sign the contract, I’d choose the most highly-ranking guy to leave and see if I can do it again. I believe I still have the ability to succeed at the highest levels. But, no. It’s a sad day for all the people, the media and the fans. Everyone thought of this fight in Rio. But not me. This was my goal and I will not change it. I have a son now, Aldo III, so the idea of fighting doesn’t cross my mind.”

Asked if a special opponent would have convinced him otherwise, Aldo explained he already had his mind made up about retirement in 2020.

“For me, I already wanted to stop [before] this final run,” Aldo said. After the Petr [Yan] fight at Abu Dhabi, Aldo said that he wanted him to end it. He always let time pass and then we would talk. I had a good age at that time, I could still do something else with my life other than continue fighting. We came back. It was then that I made a complete change in my life. I started boxing training at the Navy. That gave me an extra push and helped me learn new things as well as a diet. From that moment I started fighting for others instead of for myself.”

“I’m very competitive and I every time I go in there I will always do my best and want to win, but I was [fighting] for others,” he explained. “I was coming with all I had to become champion but for others, not myself. I felt that before, to become champion at the highest level, but no name [would have convinced me].”

That said, Aldo does not regret resuming his career after losing to Yan in Abu Dhabi. The Nova Uniao star was on a three-fight losing skid at that point, and won back-to-back-to-back fights against Marlon Vera, Pedro Munhoz and Rob Font before his final bout with Dvalishvili.

” I don’t regret any of it,” Aldo stated. “If I did it, I did it because it was the right thing had to be done. It’s not something I regret. There is no alternative to cleaning up milk spilled. Everyone saw me again at the top, not just me. My past fighter [after the Yan loss] was what people saw in me and they were right. I won, put on great performances and everyone started to talk about me. It was awesome, a great experience not only for me but for my team, ‘Dede’, my family, and everybody around us for these last fights we had.”

The only thing he does lament regard his final fights is having referee Jason Herzog as the third man in the cage for his final octagon appearance at UFC 278.

” I could wait and watch for the title fight and be next in line,” Aldo stated. “But, I don’t know when [Aljamain] Sterling will want to fight. He could get hurt, postpone the fight or cancel it. It was not something I desired to do. I was in a hurry to fight, and I was willing to. That’s what I did when I first signed to fight in the UFC and WEC. It was important to me that I kept active. Fighting has a limited window so I needed to prove myself. Even though [Dvalishvili] wasn’t someone I wanted to fight, it was something that I had to do.

“I’m very disappointed with this last performance,” he continued, “but, on the other hand, everybody has this image of me as the champion, winning my fights and giving my all in there, fighting everybody, they don’t that much about that loss itself but the fight, which was ugly. [Dvalishvili] continued to hug, but that wasn’t Merab’s fault, it was also the [fault]. referee. He’s horrible. I can tell you that. It’s always a s***y fight, no matter how many times he referees it. The same thing happened in Ketlen [Vieira’s] fight with Holly Holm.

“Ten seconds go by and the guy is only touching you with the knee, not doing anything really, break them. If your condition doesn’t improve, you can separate the two of them and start over. As a fan, I want to fight a fight, not people hugging, [and a referee] defending [that] style… The referee is more to blame than Merab. Merab did what he was set out to do, but the referee is the one that let it happen.”