When Jose Aldo was at the peak of his career, there was no shortage of talk about a potential move on from the featherweight division he ruled.
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This was before Conor McGregor, Daniel Cormier, Amanda Nunes and others ushered in the double-champ era that we’ve grown to know and tolerate today, but the interest in seeing the King of Rio challenge for a new belt was there.
The dream fight at the time was Aldo against Anthony Pettis, the UFC lightweight champion who built a name off of his flashy kicks and slick jiu-jitsu.
If there was talk about Aldo cutting down to 135 pounds — seemingly to fight bantamweight king Dominick Cruz at the time — it sure wasn’t very loud.
There’s a reason why — it’s a bad idea.
Unfortunately, Aldo isn’t going to listen.
He signed on the dotted line to fight Brazilian bantamweight Marlon Moraes at UFC 245, and with the Dec. 14 date drawing closer, he’s nearing the home stretch of the weight cut. And it already doesn’t look good.
Some recent photos Jose Aldo, bantamweight edition. pic.twitter.com/oF0VhDVHeF
— Aaron Bronsteter (@aaronbronsteter) December 5, 2019
Reminiscent of TJ Dillashaw’s cut down to 125, these pictures sent MMA pundits and fans into a frenzy, and rightfully so.
He looks terrible.
In a media scrum ahead of UFC 245 transcribed by MMA Fighting, Aldo revealed that he weighed 152.1 pounds on Wednesday and said he is eating “almost two pounds of salad a day” in preparation for the final water cut.
Now, Aldo has been notoriously coy about his weight throughout his MMA career, making it difficult to take anything he says at face value.
Ahead of his rematch with Chad Mendes at UFC 179, Aldo told ESPN that he has figured out how to make his cut to 145 pounds go more smoothly than it had in the past. He even tacked on an interesting tidbit.
“I could even make 135 pounds, I believe,” Aldo said in 2014, “but that’s not a plan in my career.”
Four years and seven fights later, though, Aldo seemed to change his tune.
In discussing the possibility of a rematch with McGregor following Aldo’s UFC Fortaleza win over Renato Moicano, he suggested that it take place in Brazil at 155 pounds, contrasting the previous assertions about his weight cuts.
“To me it would be great,” Aldo said via MMA Fighting. “I don’t know if this fight he said [would be] in Rio, it didn’t get to me, but if I have that opportunity at the division above, that way I don’t have to suffer through the weight cut, I think it would be a great fight.”
Now, could this be a case of Aldo choosing his words poorly or the word “suffer” can spark concern.
Regardless, there is tangible evidence of Aldo struggling to get to 145.
Ahead of his rematch with Max Holloway at UFC 218, Aldo came in heavy on his first attempt to weigh in. He entered the room wearing the usual signs of a fighter who went through hell to make it to the scales.
Aldo misses initially, but with shorts on. Towel comes out, drama averted. We good to go. 145. pic.twitter.com/LZM0QZTmIP
— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) December 1, 2017
His face looked blank and his body exhausted as he leaned on the scale following his miss.
And this fighter is going to make the 136-pound non-title fight limit?
That’s before we even consider the fight.
If Aldo does prove everyone wrong and wins his battle with the scale, he will step into the Octagon across from Moraes.
Moraes is a proven danger, evidenced by his back-to-back knockout wins over Aljamain Sterling and Jimmie Rivera as well as his submission of Raphael Assuncao, a bantamweight mainstay for the better part of the decade.
Moraes may have lost his last fight to champion Henry Cejudo after gassing out, but that doesn’t change the fact that he is a more than capable foe for the former featherweight champion.
Of course, doubting Aldo’s skills inside the cage is difficult. He proved most wrong when he bounced back from two straight losses to Holloway to beat Jeremy Stephens by first-round TKO. He showed he can hang with the new breed when he put Moicano away in the second round in their fight.
But in his 33rd professional fight, Aldo didn’t look like Aldo. His game was largely shut down by Alexander Volkanovski, resulting in a lackluster showing.
If that fight is an indication of things to come for the 33-year-old, expect a depressing result at UFC 245. We very well could be witnessing a legend’s last sad attempt at attaining his former glory.
Shane Connelly is a journalism student at Penn State with a passion for sharing the stories of MMA fighters.