Former WEC and UFC undisputed featherweight champion Jose Aldo is done fighting. After a career starting in Macapá, Brazil in 2004, the first ever 145-pound champion in the UFC has decided to call it quits. Keeping in tradition of paying tribute to the legends of the sport as their fighting stint comes to a close, we’ll take a look at Jose Aldo’s best MMA moments, and everything in between as we say goodnight to the Brazilian ‘Scarface.’
Born in Manaus, Brazil in September 1986, José Aldo da Silva Oliveira Junior had childhood dreams of becoming a professional soccer player. If it weren’t for his rough surroundings, that may well have come to fruition. ‘Scarface’ gained his nickname after his sister dropped him on a barbecue when he was an infant, a moniker that would later become synonymous with one of the most dominant fighters in mixed martial arts. Tired of getting beaten in the streets, Aldo began training in Capoeira.
Gaining the attention of a local Brazilian Jiu Jitsu trainer, Aldo was invited to try his hand at the grappling art. After just one class ‘Scarface’ was hooked, and transitioned to training BJJ. Once he reached the age of 17, Aldo left Manaus for Rio de Janeirao, with just the clothes on his back and the urge to succeed as a mixed martial artist. His first ever pro MMA fight was against Mario Bigola in 2004. Aldo won by knockout in just 18 seconds.
Compiling a record of 10-1, Aldo’s next pivotal moment would come in his WEC debut. Facing Alexandre Nogueira, ‘Scarface’ announced his arrival on US shores with a second round TKO. His next fight was against future TUF winner Jonathan Brookins, and it was another TKO win for the Brazilian. Scoring two more stoppage wins in 2009, Aldo set himself up for his biggest fight yet, a featherweight title eliminator against Cub Swanson.
At that time Swanson was 13-2 with one un-avenged loss. At WEC 41 ‘Scarface’ would face the Californian on his home turf, the fight would last just eight seconds. In one of the most replayed highlights of his career, Jose Aldo decimated Swanson with a beautiful flying knee. Swanson’s face wore the strike in the form of a harrowing cut across his eyebrow.
This Kid is Fearless
Obviously there was no question as to who was next for the title shot. Following his KO win over Cub Swanson, Jose Aldo faced Mike Brown for the WEC featherweight strap. ‘Scarface’ took out Brown in the second round by way of TKO, and was crowned the champion. Up next was Urijah Faber, and although he didn’t get the finish, Aldo made mincemeat of ‘The California Kid’ using his trademark leg kicks.
Immediately after a crushing KO win against Manny Gamburyan, Aldo was promoted to UFC featherweight champion when they merged the WEC. Decision wins over Mark Hominick and Kenny Florian brought Aldo’s career record to 20-1, and he had finally gained the reputation of the greatest featherweight on the planet. At UFC 142, Aldo faced Chad Mendes in the first of two fights with ‘Money.’
Mendes 1 to Mendes 2
In front of a rowdy crowd in Rio, hometown favorite Jose Aldo knocked out Chad Mendes in the last second of round one. Aldo jumped the octagon fence and was embraced by his countrymen in an iconic moment. Numerous injuries kept ‘Scarface’ from the fight game for over a year, but he came back with a fight of the night decision win over Frankie Edgar at UFC 156. Stopping ‘Korean Zombie’ at UFC 163 and winning a one-sided decision against Ricardo Lamas had Aldo arguably at the top of the pound-for-pound list.
Although he was yet to be defeated in his WEC/UFC career, questions about Aldo’s motivation and form were raised. The gruesome war with Chan Sung Jung led to a litany of injuries and illness for ‘Scarface,’ and many believed he was losing the killer instinct. Returning to face Chad Mendes for a second time at UFC 179, again in Rio, Aldo blew off the cobwebs in a thrilling five rounder with his old rival. It seemed ‘Money’ had awoken the beast with his pre-fight trash talk.
McGregor and Beyond
After winning his enthralling second encounter with Mendes by decision, Aldo was eventually paired with a big game talking Irishman by the name of Conor McGregor. After more than a year of waiting, including an eventful world tour opposite ‘The Notorious,’ Aldo climbed in to the octagon at UFC 194. The rivalry with McGregor was much more than just the fight itself, it became a battle of two contrasting futures for the sport as a whole. The Reebok deal, fighter pay and respect would all factor in to this historic showdown.
UFC president Dana White and Jose Aldo were not seeing eye to eye. The Brazilian felt disrespected by the promotion, as talks of stripping ‘Scarface’ of his title emerged following his withdrawal from UFC 189. ‘Thrown under the bus’ was how Aldo said he felt. After blasting the UFC-Reebok deal too, the bout with McGregor at UFC 194 almost seemed like Jose vs. Conor, the UFC and Reebok. The rich backstory, intense rivalry with McGregor and the underlying script of money vs. rankings would all unfold on December 12, 2015. For all the time and strenuous promotion put in to the fight, just 13 seconds later the history books had a new name smashed in to them.
McGregor to Present Day
After the brutal 13-second KO loss to Conor McGregor, Jose Aldo sat out for eight months. Many felt the Brazilian should have received an immediate rematch given his former dominance, but other weight classes and rivalries beckoned for the ever growing star from Ireland. Many appeals and irate rants later, Aldo would find himself in a rematch, but against Frankie Edgar at UFC 200. Although toppled by McGregor in such devastating fashion, ‘Scarface’ was not done.
Winning a decisive unanimous decision against ‘The Answer,’ Aldo felt the warm embrace of UFC gold once again around his waist. This time the interim belt, and a widely expected unification match with McGregor was the result of the Brazilian’s hard work. UFC 205 was announced to be headlined by McGregor against the lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez, and this essentially proved to be the final straw for Aldo. Demanding his release from the UFC, ‘Scarface’ said he was disgusted by the dishonesty of Dana White.
Say Goodnight To The bad Guy
Sticking to his guns, Jose Aldo would later claim that not even a rematch with Conor McGregor could keep him in the UFC now. He claimed that money ruling the roost had torn away his love for the sport, and the foundations of respect and honesty were now missing from MMA.
When all is said and done, Jose Aldo’s influence on mixed martial arts is undeniable. So long, and thanks for the fights, former undisputed pound-for-pound king Jose Aldo (26-2, 14 KO, 2 Sub).
Check out this gangster highlight aptly named ‘Scarface’ by Dream Eskimo on Youtube: