Jose Aldo explains his return to UFC 301 and the future of MMA after the fight with Jonathan Martinez

Jose Aldo isn’t committing to anything ahead of UFC 301.

This Saturday, Aldo faces Jonathan Martinez in the co-main event in Rio de Janeiro. Aldo has not competed in MMA since 2022, having retired following a loss to Merab Dvalishvili at UFC 278. When he first decided he was interested in returning, it wasn’t about coming back to fight in Rio. Aldo just wanted back in the game, and then things happened to work out.

“When I started talking to Dana [White] and Sean [Shelby] about my comeback, there was no plans for Rio, no names, opponents, or anything,” Aldo said through a translator at UFC 301 media day. “At first the name that we were talking about was Dominick Cruz. We were set to fight Dominick Cruz, but he had some problems with his camp and we got Jonathan Martinez, and it just ended up being in Rio, so it was a coincidence.”

Take a look how Jose Aldo gets heated in faceoff with Jonathan Martinez ahead of UFC 301 return

When the fight was announced, Jose Aldo returning to fight Martinez was a bit of a shock. Martinez is currently ranked No. 12 in the UFC bantamweight rankings and on an impressive six-fight winning streak, but fans have fantasy booked a bout between Aldo and Cruz for years, back when they were the featherweight and bantamweight champions of the WEC and then the UFC, and then again when Aldo dropped down to bantamweight. But while fans may be pining for that matchup, Aldo said it’s not one he was especially interested in.

“I think the fans have been waiting to watch that fight,” Jose Aldo said. “Two former champions from the WEC days, two former UFC champions, but he’s not the one that I asked for. I wanted to get someone in the top five. That’s specifically what I asked the UFC. Dominick is coming off a series of losses, Jonathan Martinez is coming off a bunch of wins.”

Of course, the matchup with Cruz can still be made after Saturday, but that’s far from a guarantee. This is the final fight of Aldo’s current UFC deal, meaning he will be a free agent on Sunday. And while Jose Aldo did not say he intended to leave the UFC, he also didn’t shut down other possibilities for what he may do next.

Saturday is about figuring out where he stands in MMA, and then the decisions can be made.

“When we started talking to Dana, they wanted to give me a new deal, but I really wanted to have this fight, which is what I’m focused on right now, to see where I’m at, and then we can take it from there,” Jose Aldo said. “When I stopped fighting, when I retired, I had a lot of offers, a lot of money, but it’s never been about that. So that’s what we’re doing right now. We’re going to see where I’m at.”

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