Former UFC champion Aldo, the first title holder in the featherweight division after the UFC/WEC merger, is widely regarded as one of the best mixed martial artists of all time and arguably the greatest 145-lb fighter ever.
In an interview with Combate, Aldo talked about his vision of retiring at the top of the game. The 35-year-old inches closer to his planned deadline and has his eyes set on achieving his goal before it’s time to hang up the gloves.
“When we first started, I told Dede (Pederneiras, Aldo’s coach) that at 35 I’d be champion and I’d retire,” Aldo said. “That is why I say that I’m very close to retiring, though I used to say I’d retire as a champion. You can give me Merab Dvalishvili, he’s a really tough guy, well-ranked, that nobody wants to fight.
“I’ll beat him and then I’ll win the belt, it’s already written. Dede and I used to dream about being double champions at featherweight and lightweight, but that ended up being different.
“We dropped to bantamweight and we’re about to fight for the title in this division. I started out at bantamweight, I never thought I’d make that cut again. Now I’m ending my career at bantamweight, right where I started.” (h/t Bloody Elbow)
Although Aldo did not become a double champion in his intended weight classes, he could add another feather to his cap with a bantamweight crown on his resume.
Aldo Is Set To Take On Merab Dvalishvili at UFC 278
Currently, on a three-fight win streak, Aldo has defeated top-ranked contenders, including Marlon “Chito” Vera, Pedro Munhoz, and Rob Font.
He sits at the third spot in the rankings in one of the most stacked divisions ever under fellow former champions Petr Yan and TJ Dillashaw.
Reigning 135 lb king Aljamain Sterling is expected to face Dillashaw in his next outing. He’s also hinted at a move up a weight class to allow his teammate, Dvalishvili to “wreak havoc on the division.”
The seasoned Brazilian veteran hopes to secure a final run at the gold if he’s able to dispatch Dvalishvili, who has racked up an eight-fight win streak but has remained out of competition since his finish of Marlon Moraes in Sep. 2021.
Aldo Talks Preparations for His Upcoming Bout
With just over 30 days left for his contest with Merab, Aldo expanded on his preparations to handle the Georgian’s grappling-heavy style.
“The camp has been great,” he added. “We’ve done some adjustments that Dede thought were necessary.
“We’ve been mostly training the physical part because we think there’ll be a lot of grappling in this fight. I always say that the best defense is to have an advantage over your opponent.”
Aldo’s expected to take on top-ten ranked contender Dvalishvili in the co-main event of UFC 278 on Aug. 20 at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. The main card will be headlined by a welterweight title clash between the champion, Kamaru Usman, and challenger Leon Edwards.