The legendary Jose Aldo announced his retirement this Sunday, after reaching an agreement with the UFC to be released. The Brazilian had one more fight on his contract and was expected to fight for the last time in his home country on January 21 in Rio de Janeiro, however, the former champion's career officially came to an end.
With Aldo's retirement, the debate continues over who is the best featherweight in the history of MMA, and honestly, this discussion shouldn't exist. Aldo is by far the best.
After dominating the Brazilian circuit, Aldo left in 2008 to fight in WEC (World Extreme Cagefighting), a promotion that at the time had the same quality of talent as the UFC (Benson Henderson, Dominick Cruz, Donald Cerrone, Anthony Pettis, to name a few). The Brazilian became the youngest champion at 23, and defended the belt twice, also defeating UFC Hall of Famer Urijah Faber.
WEC was acquired by Zuffa, and Aldo became UFC champion. In the octagon, the Brazilian successfully defended the belt seven times. Between 2005 and 2015, Aldo went undefeated for 10 years, winning 18 fights and defending the belt nine times, until it fell to Conor McGregor. For some reason, the UFC never gave Aldo a rematch option, as they did for any other champion with a significant reign.
After his loss to McGregor, Aldo won the interim title and then faced Max Holloway on two occasions for the absolute championship. Later in his career, he fought for the belt again, this time at bantamweight.
Until the last day of his career, Aldo faced the best and always tried to become champion again. He was never one of those veterans that kept fighting just for the sake of fighting.
Quality of opponents
If we talk about Jose Aldo's defeats in his last stint, it should be mentioned that almost all of them were champions: Conor McGregor was so in two divisions, Holloway and Volkanovski are still marking an era at featherweight and Petr Yan was a bantamweight champion, staying relevant to this day.
During his reign as UFC champion, he defeated big names such as Frankie Edgar, Ricardo Lamas, Kenny Florian, and Chad Mendes. In his previous WEC stint, he knocked out Alexandre "Pequeno" Nogueir, Cub Swanson, and Mike Brown.
In short, the Brazilian kept fighting the best in the world for a long period of time, without exception and without dodging any opponent. Aldo wanted to prove to himself that he was the best in the world and was willing to fight against any threat.
Not for nothing was he called "the people's champion", because thanks to his humility he achieved an important connection with the crowd, especially with the humble population of Brazil, who saw Aldo as their hero.
Jose Aldo was always a martial artist of integrity. He never had to disrespect anyone to settle a fight, and he always fought clean and stayed true to his convictions until the end of his career.
While Alexander Volkanovski continues to write his story as champion, Jose Aldo holds the record for most successful defenses with seven in UFC history, and with all due respect, the opponents Volkanovski has faced do not have the same trajectory as those fought by the Brazilian.