At UFC 251 on July 11th Jose Aldo Jr could be about to stake a claim as the greatest fighter of all-time.
Aldo will fight Petr Yan for the recently vacated UFC Bantamweight title on Fight Island, knowing that a win will see him become only the eighth fighter to hold UFC gold in two weight classes.
Before running into Conor McGregor back in 2015, Aldo was the only Featherweight champion in UFC history with seven defences of his title. He had beaten everyone in his way in the division and was even expected to dispatch of McGregor before the shocking 13 second KO that shook the world.
Since then, we’ve seen Aldo’s record spiral. He beat Frankie Edgar in his next fight to reclaim the now vacant title before he was knocked-out twice by Max Holloway as he lost the belt again. He then beat Jeremy Stephens and Renato Moicano before losing to Alexander Volkanovski.
Following that defeat to the now Featherweight champion Volkanovski, Aldo made the decision to drop down in weight and go to the 135lbs Bantamweight division. Many were surprised by this as he was always seen as a relatively big 145lber and the weight cut had never been particularly easy for him.
He took 7 months between fights to work on a new diet to make the drop and was rewarded with a fight against fellow Brazilian Marlos Moraes, who was fresh off a defeat to Henry Cejudo for the previously vacant Bantamweight title.
In that first 135lbs fight, Aldo was sharp. He looked strong, he kicked well and he maintained his power with sharp boxing. His combinations were good and his conditioning held up well. He looked like he’d made a good decision. Then the judges returned a controversial split decision, which saw him given yet another loss on his record.
Fans and media didn’t agree with the decision, while UFC President Dana White also said he’d scored the bout to Aldo. It was because of this, plus his reputation, that he was offered the next title shot against Henry Cejudo. The two were due to meet in May, but Covid-19 meant there were severe travel issues and Aldo was forced to withdraw from the fight. Dominick Cruz stepped into his place and was beaten by Cejudo, who then retired immediately in his post-fight interview.
It threw Aldo’s title contention into doubt, especially considering Aljamain Sterling continues to win. But Dana White stuck by his man, and announced that Aldo will fight Petr Yan for the vacant title. It’s now booked for UFC 251 and Aldo is an underdog again.
Yan KO’d the legendary Urijah Faber in his last fight and has long been tipped to be at the top of the division sooner or later. Surprisingly many are look at this fight as an almost foregone conclusion, already matching up Yan with ‘The Funkmaster’ Aljamain Sterling for his first defence of the title.
But Jose Aldo will have other ideas. The Brazilian is looking to make history despite his recent record. If he can upset the odds and get a win at UFC 251, he may just have an argument to go down as the GOAT.