Jose Aldo has made the first steps back towards his lost featherweight title, setting up a TKO of Jeremy Stephens with a crushing body blow.
Calgary, AB — Back in the win column again. That’s where Jose Aldo found himself Saturday night in Calgary at UFC on FOX 30. For a fighter who was considered the most dangerous in his weight class, frankly ever, it was bewildering to see what had become of the Brazilian. 1-3 in his past four fights. His title taken from him, twice. First, by Conor McGregor, then, by Max Holloway. Stoppages in both fights, then a nearly identical loss to Holloway in a rematch.
In Calgary, however, Aldo corrected course. Jeremy Stephens was on the best run of his career. He was looking like a world-beater, like the sort of fighter fans always expected ‘Lil Heathen’ could be. In short, Jose Aldo defeated the best Jeremy Stephens we’ve seen, setting it up with a crushing blow to the body.
WHAT. A. BODY SHOT. @josealdojunior gets the TKO win over Jeremy Stephens. pic.twitter.com/Gcg4H7fUJn
— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) July 29, 2018
That left hand was the beginning of the end. Following the fight, Aldo was first to arrive at the post-fight press conference, where he spoke about the win and his future in the UFC. The latter has been a topic of much discussion of late, sparked by Aldo himself, who has suggested he may retire at the end of his current contract.
“I was coming from a really rough time, coming off two losses,” Aldo said post-fight, “but I had the support of my whole team, I had a very good group of people around me.” It’s that team, in part, that the win was for.
“I’ve just got to say thank you to Jeremy for taking the fight. He’s a very hard hitter, he’s a very tough fighter,” he said of his opponent. “It’s a fight we asked for a while back, and we finally got it. He put in the work that we were expecting him to put [in]. It was a very tough fight, and a good win for my comeback.”
Future plans? That’s simple. Claim the title for a third time. “For now the big plan is to just finish this contract as champion. That’s all the work that we’re going to be doing for now, is aiming at that.”
He feels the win over Jeremy Stephens was a solid first step. “I think the performance is good enough to catch the eye of the matchmakers again. Show that I do belong here, I am the top fighter in this division, and I’m ready to get another title shot eventually in this run.”
First, however, the featherweight title picture will have to sort itself out. Champion Max Holloway’s health remains a question mark, while Brian Ortega is patiently awaiting his title shot. Yet should Aldo pick up another quality win, by the time those two meet, he may have reestablished himself as the top contender at 145lbs.