Jose Aldo’s loss to Conor McGregor at UFC 194 in December of 2014 definitely rocked the legendary Brazilian fighter and icon, not only because he lost the featherweight title and ended a 10-year winning streak, but mostly because of how it happened.
The stunning one-shot knockout at the 13-second-mark of the first round reminded the Brazilian’s good old WEC days, when he defeated opponents with spectacular flying-knees within 10 seconds, knocked others down with powerful kicks and cleared the division.
Maybe that was the reason Aldo’s first move after returning to Rio de Janeiro was recruiting Emerson Falcao, a Muay Thai kickboxing champion who also trains at Nova Uniao for his camp. Aldo’s main goal, as he prepares to face Frankie Edgar at UFC 200 on July 9, is to go back to being the aggressive fighter who enjoys putting on a show for the fans, like in the good old WEC days.
“I know, in my head, what I used to do in the WEC days, I remember what my goals were,” Aldo told UFC Brazil.com. "Many people are saying the Jose Aldo Era is over, but it is a good time to prove I’m still strong and standing. I’m hungry and determined to prove it."
Those who follow Aldo’s steps every day in the gym say he is back training Muay Thai fundamentals, and has been giving special attention to combinations of punches and kicks. Besides winning, he knows a solid performance on Saturday can prove he’s still one of the most feared fighters in the planet. And nothing can be better than a knockout to start the “new-old” phase of the former champion.
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“Aldo has been working really hard, and he’s determined not to leave it on the hands of the judges this time,” said Andre Pederneiras, Aldo’s longtime coach. "We know it’s going to be a tough one, because there’s a really skilled fighter on the other side. But Aldo is definitely ready to go all over him."
Going into Saturday’s bout, Aldo has no doubts his speed and combinations can make the difference against Frankie Edgar. While the American claims repeatedly he’s more adapted to the featherweight pace, the former champion is sure he’ll prove otherwise.
“If he thinks he’s fast, he won’t even see me in the Octagon,” a smiling Aldo said. "He evolved a lot since our last fight (an unanimous decision for Aldo in 2013). He may be more adapted to the division, but only when it comes to the weight-cutting."
As he’s done multiple times in his life and career, Aldo is counting the days to prove he’s capable of turning things around after a big shock.
“The loss was a mere comma in my history,” he said, "and I see myself going back strong to reclaim the title”.
Davi Correia is a multimedia journalist for UFC.com.br. Follow him on Twitter at @davicorreia