Jose Aldo Reflects On Loss To Petr Yan At UFC 251
Jose Aldo may have recently missed out on the vacant UFC bantamweight title at UFC 251, but the Brazilian is looking at the positives of his performance, and refuses to criticise the referee for the controversial stoppage which concerned many.
The UFC legend was pleased and upbeat about his performance against Petr Yan. Although he has refused to watch the title fight back. This habit of not watching the footage back is not uncommon for the 33 year old however, and is something he has maintained throughout his fighting career, insisting that “it’s in the past and can’t be changed.”
Despite this, Aldo and his coach Andre Pederneiras, have meticulously analysed what went wrong and what improvements need to be implemented. Speaking to MMA Fighting, ‘Junior’ reflected on his back and forth war with Yan.
“It was a good fight. I liked my performance,” Aldo said. “Pretty much everything worked out. Everything we thought would happen in the fight happened. It was a very tough fight. We were basically tied going into the fifth round, but the main factors in the fight were a kick that landed on him and his punch that got me in the first and affected me. I thought it would be a tough fight, but I would be able to control it.
“We fought smart for two rounds. When I came back to the fourth, I don’t know why I changed my strategy again. I should have kept it, controlling the distance, but it’s his merit for imposing his rhythm, coming forward and controlling until the fifth. We thought about fighting [the way I did in round one], but he connected a good punch, and I went down and stayed there for a while trying to recover and couldn’t fight until the end.
“But, like I said, I’m very happy. I was able to land kicks, I was able to land punches. I think I should have done more combinations with my hands. I think it was a good performance regardless. I think it’s more of his merits for being able to neutralise some areas we had in mind than me not doing something.”
Aldo’s leg kicks have been a weapon that have greatly assisted in the battering of many of his featherweight opponents in the past. These blistering kicks to the legs, body, and head led to a flurry of Aldo out striking and dominating Yan in spells. That was until the Russian made the crucial in-fight adjustments, ultimately leading to the turning of the tide of the title bout.
“I have strong kicks and he knows it, but he didn’t expect that — we kicked through him, he felt the leg, and that’s why he switched stances,” Aldo said. “We knew he would switch stances, but he checked a kick well once and I felt [my] foot. The fact that he kept putting pressure [on me], walking forward, made it hard for me to combine with kicks. If I had let my hands go more, I would have been able to kick more in the fourth and fifth rounds. I did a lot of combinations, kicking him in the body and legs. That was the path, to kick his body when he was on southpaw stance and hit his arms. I could have done that, but I’m very happy [with the fight].”
The bout for the vacant UFC 135lbs title had a controversial finish with many, including UFC president Dana White, branding it as a disturbingly late stoppage. Aldo being on the ground of the Octagon and receiving repeated unanswered blows to the head was an uncomfortable spectacle for viewers at home, although the former UFC featherweight champion rather surprisingly has no complaints with referee Leon Roberts’ stoppage.
“The referee was great, man – excellent work by the referee,” Aldo said. “It’s hard to think about stopping a title fight. If he stopped it early, everyone would talk about it. I wasn’t out at any moment. I went down and was trying to recover. Everyone who gets in there, or those who have been knocked down before, knows how the body reacts. You get slower, that’s a fact. Fighters who say it should have been stopped earlier are just kidding themselves. You get slower, you try to move, but it’s completely different.
“To me, the referee did an excellent job. Getting punched once or twice more won’t make any difference in your life. You’re willing to do it. What if the referee doesn’t stop it there, I recover and land a good one that knocks him out? Every referee goes to our locker room before the fight to go over the rules, and I always tell them to not stop the fight, only if I have no reaction. As long as I’m fighting, let me in there. It’s part of the sport.”
This most recent loss to Yan leaves Aldo on the end of a three-fight losing streak. Although, he refuses to let this streak affect him and is instead choosing to focus on the positives from his battle on Fight Island.
“On paper I have two losses, but that’s life, man,” Aldo said. “We’re in a sport of highs and lows. It’s part of the sport. If I had retired when I was winning, cool, I would be one of those guys that people would be able to say, ‘You were the best,’ and whatnot, but, no, I keep fighting and aiming for great things. You aim big, you win big. It’s part of the sport. There are wins and losses.
“The performances I had against Marlon [Moraes], where I did well and undoubtedly won the fight, even if the result says otherwise, and Petr Yan… he’s an up-and-comer, and nobody wants to fight the guy. But I volunteered to do it and put on an excellent performance. That’s the sport, you either win or lose.”
If you thought Aldo was going to slow down after this most recent loss, then you’re very much mistaken. From the sounds of things, his stint in the bantamweight division has only just begun.
“It’s time to get my head back in place, set a new strategy, get a new fight booked and win again. That’s what I have in mind right now. I don’t think about anything but a win. Get the confidence, climb in this weight class step by step. I can make the weight, and I’m well adapted to it with my body and speed.
“I’m an athlete,” Aldo said. “I’m a fighter. This is what I’ve chosen for my life. As long as I have this hunger to train and learn, to get out of my comfort zone, brother, I want to fight. That’s the goal. I’ll get back to training, do what ‘Dede’ and I are planning, and ask Dana [White] for a fight.”
Aldo’s Next Opponent
When asked, Aldo stated that he doesn’t have a preference for who his next opponent should be, instead stating his willingness to fight whoever the UFC place in front of him, as he looks to aim his efforts at yet another title run.
“This new generation keeps picking fights, but I train to fight anyone,” he said. “If you want to be a champion you have to fight the champion, or the worst guy in the division, it doesn’t matter. If you want to be the champion, you have to fight everyone.”
Who would you like to see Jose Aldo face next?