For a decade, Jose Aldo was not forced to face the emotional turmoil of defeat, but over the course of the last 24 months things have taken a violent turn against the Brazilian and he has had to cope with three losses in just four outings.
The first loss was the most jarring, a 13-second decimation at the heavy hands of a man who had tormented him verbally for almost a year and for whom it appeared he had little respect. Aldo, perhaps, didn’t deal with the loss of his UFC featherweight title to Conor McGregor particularly well. Understandably so.
When he returned to the octagon eight months later, however, the psychological scars were not apparent. Aldo turned in a tremendous performance to overcome old foe Frankie Edgar at UFC 200 and claim an interim title. By the time he faced Max Holloway at UFC 212 eleven months later, he had been promoted to champion, ironically due to McGregor’s lack of championship activity and the fact the Irishman had been hopping about the weight classes with abandon. Holloway though, proceeded to rip the belt from Aldo in just as violent a fashion as McGregor had, if not quite so dramatically.
This time, Aldo seemed to take the defeat a little more in his stride. He showed class in his post-fight acceptance that Holloway was the better man, as well as courage and determination in promising to fight back.
Unfortunately for Aldo, his second battle with Holloway this past Saturday night at UFC 218 ended in eerily similar fashion to the first, with him being battered in a vulnerable position on the ground in the closing seconds of the third round, forcing the referee to intervene and save him from unnecessary punishment.
But the Brazilian great once again showed class in defeat and on Tuesday he posted a remarkably upbeat statement to Instagram.
“I just have to thank for everything my family that I love, my team, the best in the world Nova Uniao for making me great and champion to friends and fans who are always with me, thank you all,” wrote Aldo. “I will always be optimistic, because believing is the first step to making it happen!!”
Despite his optimism, it’s hard to see where Aldo can go from here. Before he stepped in at short notice to replace the injured Frankie Edgar opposite Holloway at UFC 218, ‘Scarface’ had been scheduled to face Ricardo Lamas at UFC on Fox 26 on December 16th. ‘The Bully’ is now scheduled to meet Josh Emmet that night instead, but if Lamas comes through that tough challenge he would be an ideal opponent to test exactly how much Aldo has left after this latest setback.
Another option for Aldo is an ascent to 155lbs, something he has flirted with in the past. Considering how unhealthy he appeared at the weigh-in last Friday, this might be the more sensible choice for the 31-year-old.