Jose Aldo Reveals UFC Offered Him Fight With Khabib Nurmagomedov In 2016

Jose Aldo
Mandatory Credit: Mike Roach - Zuffa LLC

Former undisputed UFC featherweight champion and current bantamweight contender, Jose Aldo has claimed that the promotion once offered him the opportunity to move to the lightweight limit — for a ‘super fight’ with former division champion, the now-retired, Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Manaus favorite, Aldo is currently in the midst of a two-fight winning run for the first time since February 2019 — most recently taking home an impressive unanimous decision victory over compatriot, Pedro Munhoz at UFC 265 in August.

The Brazilian veteran, who is currently ranked at #5 in the bantamweight pile, is slated to headline UFC Vegas 44 at the start of December against New England Cartel standout, Rob Font as he attempts to earn a second title challenge at the bantamweight limit.

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As for Khabib, the Dagestan native announced his retirement from professional mixed martial arts in October of last year following a successful lightweight title unification win over Justin Gaethje on ‘Fight Island’ — improving his professional résumé to 29-0 as a result.

Officially vacating his title in March of this year, Khabib has been continuously linked with a return to the promotion, to no avail, however, with the undefeated grappling confirming that the promotion, its officials and its president, Dana White have tirelessly attempted to persuade him to make a return to the active competition for one final fight. 

Jose Aldo reveals the UFC attempted to match him with Khabib Nurmagomedov back in 2016

Speaking with MMA Fighting reporter, Guilherme Cruz on Trocacao Franca, Aldo revealed that the promotion had offered him an interim lightweight title fight against Khabib back in 2016 — but claims the latter turned the fight down.

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I was traveling when ‘Dede’ [Andre Pederneiras] called me,” Jose Aldo revealed. “The [UFC] had offered me this fight and we took it. I said, ‘What? I want that, I’m in.’ I respect everybody but that opportunity … I was the featherweight champion, and [Khabib Nurmagomedov] didn’t think it was a good [idea]. I don’t know if he was expecting to fight somebody else, I don’t know what he was thinking at the time. I think it could have been a great fight.

I wanted to test myself,” Jose Aldo continued. “Everybody always asks me. … It’s funny, everybody thinks I train wrestling a lot. No, man, I usually do the same training with my team, so, to me, it would have been a really tough test. I’ve always fought against American wrestling and it was hard to take me down, so it would be a tough test against him, if he would be able to impose his takedown game against me knowing that I have pretty good takedown defense as well.” 

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Aldo, the promotion’s inaugural featherweight champion, was continuously linked with a move to the promotion’s lightweight limit in the past. And was even briefly targeted to meet with former division champion, Anthony Pettis in a bout that failed to come to fruition.