José Aldo’s longtime coach has downplayed speculation that a loss at UFC 278 may have been the former featherweight champion’s swan song in the sport.
One of the most anticipated bouts at UFC 278 was the bantamweight contest between Aldo and Merab Dvalishvili. While the fight’s action fell a bit short of most fan’s expectations, Dvalishvili secured a unanimous decision for the Georgian’s 8th consecutive victory.
The loss was a disappointing one for Aldo, who had put together an impressive 3-fight win streak after losing to Petr Yan in a 2020 bid for the UFC’s vacant bantamweight title.
The 35-year-old shared a moment with “The Machine” in the cage after the decision, and Dvalishvili later claimed the Brazilian told him that he was retiring.
“Aldo Is Still Winning”
The prospect of one of the sport’s all-time greats retiring has understandably drawn considerable attention online, although Aldo himself has yet to comment on it.
One person who is convinced that “Junior” will soldier on is his longtime coach from Nova Uniao, Andre Pederneiras. While he hasn’t broached the topic with Aldo yet, Pederneiras’s comments in an interview with Ag Fight (h/t Bloody Elbow for the translation) indicate how familiar he is with the 35-year-old’s mindset.
“I’m sure nothing has changed,” Pederneiras said. “Unless he brings that up again in the coming weeks, which I don’t think he will. Sometimes it’s just anger. It’s normal to say things. I want to see the champions who are in this life and are able to remain in the Top 5 like Aldo. Most guys in Aldo’s age, they retire after conquering what Aldo has conquered. Aldo is still winning. He’s Top 2 or Top 3 now.”
“Junior” was indeed the UFC’s #3-ranked bantamweight heading into UFC 278, but he’s now dropped down to #6 after losing to Dvalishvili. Despite that bout being a relatively lackluster performance from Aldo (aside from his brilliant takedown defense) it’s been a remarkable second act for the 35-year-old in the last few years.
After establishing himself as a pound-for-pound great with his dominance as WEC and UFC featherweight champion, Aldo was famously knocked out in 13-seconds by Conor McGregor in 2015.
Many fans questioned his decision to drop down to bantamweight in 2019, as late-career division switches are all too common from fighters looking to recapture some success. If the 35-year-old had beaten Dvalishvili, a 4-fight win streak against top competition would likely have earned him another chance at the bantamweight title.
What do you make of Aldo’s coach saying that he doesn’t expect the former champion to call it a career just yet?