RIO DE JANEIRO – Former longtime featherweight champion Jose Aldo said he didn’t know he was going to be the UFC’s next Hall of Famer.
At UFC 283 on Saturday in Rio de Janeiro in Aldo’s home country of Brazil, a video package played in Jeunesse Arena and on the broadcast took Aldo by surprise when it announced him as the next member of the UFC Hall of Fame. Aldo will officially be inducted at a ceremony later this year, likely during International Fight Week in Las Vegas in July.
“I was flattered,” Aldo said at a news conference at UFC 283. “I wasn’t expecting it. I had no idea. It just brought it home. I was raised here. I was (called) the ‘King of Rio.’ I’ve got nothing but gratitude to the UFC and all the fighters who sent a message to me (in the video package). I’m flattered.”
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Aldo retired this past September with a 13-7 record in the promotion. He was the UFC’s inaugural featherweight champion after the company brought in bantamweight and featherweight fighters in a 2010 merger with the WEC.
Aldo was the WEC’s final 145-pound champion at the time of the merger, and at UFC 123 just outside Detroit in November 2010, Aldo was on hand at a special ceremony with media in the cage for UFC president Dana White to present him the inaugural UFC featherweight belt.
The 36-year-old Aldo said that moment helped cement for him the goals he had in the UFC.
“I think it was in Detroit after I first joined the UFC after the WEC when Dana put the belt (around me) – that was the moment I started everything I wanted to do here in the UFC,” he said.
Aldo defended the 145-pound belt seven straight times from 2011 until late 2015, when Conor McGregor knocked him out in 13 seconds. He won an interim belt in the division the next year, then was promoted to champion again when McGregor had not yet defended it. But he lost the title to Max Holloway in 2017 and later lost a rematch with him.
In 2019, Aldo dropped to bantamweight, and despite a loss to Marlon Moraes in his UFC debut in the weight class, he got a vacant title shot against Petr Yan in July 2020. Yan stopped him with a fifth-round TKO, but Aldo won three straight against Marlon Vera, Pedro Munhoz and Rob Font and found himself right back in the title mix.
After a decision loss to Merab Dvalishvili this past August, Aldo eventually made the decision to hang up his MMA gloves. He said he was happy with his bantamweight run – and even thinks he could continue to contend if he stayed with it.
“I think if I carried on, I could have developed and had a good run for the belt,” Aldo said. “But I think it was time to end the career. I was very happy with the streak and the run that I had (at bantamweight).”
But he won’t stay away from combat sports entirely. Next month, Aldo has a boxing match that will stream on UFC Fight Pass.
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 283.
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Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie