It feels good to be king.
And on Saturday night Jose Aldo will be fighting in his beloved city of Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. His UFC 237 match-up with Alexander Volkanovski marks the fifth UFC bout that Aldo will have fought in Rio. It is also where he defended his featherweight belt not once, not twice but three times.
In February he knocked out fellow Brazilian and top prospect Renato Moicano at UFC Fortaleza, prompting a celebration in the crowd reminiscent of his UFC 142 crowd celebration in Rio.
“We know we have tons of fans here and that they try to fight with us,” Aldo said. “That makes me feel really comfortable and honored.”
Aldo’s vision for 2019 was always to fight back in Rio and end his career by fighting his final three bouts in his home country. First it was that impressive knockout in Fortaleza and now he intends to keep the momentum rolling against Volkanovski on Saturday.
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New Zealand’s Volkanovski is undefeated in the UFC and has recent wins over the likes of Chad Mendes and Darren Elkins. His rise has been impressive and he has definitely earned a fight with a high-profile fighter such as Aldo.
After spending some time studying Volkanovski, Aldo believes that he has found some holes in Volkanovski’s armor.
“We saw he tries to put pressure the whole time. He’s always coming forward,” Aldo said. “He’s short but he uses his strength a lot, so we’ve trained a lot to stop that. I’m going to move forward and I know that as long as I’m attacking, he’ll have to defend and I’ll be closer to victory.”
Another key to a victory on Saturday night is for Aldo to get off to a fast start. He finished his fight with Jeremy Stephens last July in the first round and defeated Moicano in the first minute of the second round. Aldo also believes that jumping out to a fast start also counteracts Volkanovski’s style well, and provides him with the best opportunity to out-match him.
“It’s OK if the fight goes three rounds,” Aldo said. “But I’m sure it won’t. I’ll get him as soon as I can. And if that doesn’t happen, rest assured that… We’ve actually noticed that he gasses out quickly. It’s impossible for the body to keep the pressure like that for three rounds, so I know that the more he uses his strength the more tired he’ll get and the further he’ll be from his goal.”
Aldo has always been an aggressive fighter, displaying his explosiveness with both his hands and kicks. But something has been different about him since his twin losses to featherweight champion Max Holloway.
His focus is unwavering and he is making sure to utilize what him and his team identify about his opponent’s skill set. When it comes to Volkanovski he believes that “The Great” has some good qualities but in terms of a gameplan, Aldo is ready to bring the fight to Volkanovski.
“It’s all about attacking. That’s the key,” Aldo said. “I’ll try to attack and move forward because by doing that we know we’ll be trying to get the win and be closer to it. He has his strengths. His hands are powerful and also tries to go for the legs, so we’ve trained a lot for that in case it happens and that way we can get this victory.”
Don’t miss out on this epic featherweight match-up. Tune into UFC 237 Saturday at 6:15pm/ 3:15pm ETPT with the UFC Fight Pass Early prelims. The ESPN+ prelims begin at 8pm/5pm ET.
Gavin Porter is a digital producer and writer for UFC.com, follow him on Twitter at @PorterUFCNews