Salt Lake City, UT — Former UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo rides a three-fight win streak into his UFC 278 showdown with Merab Dvalishvili — but believes he should already be fighting for gold.
“Yes, surely. I actually think that I should be fighting for the title,” Aldo (31-7), now a bantamweight, told media outlets including Cageside Press during the event’s media day this week. “I wanted to fight Aljo [Aljamain Sterling, 135lb champion], but obviously he’s going for [T.J.] Dillashaw. So I believe that if I win this fight, I am actually the next one to fight for the belt.”
Petr Yan vs. Sean O’Malley is still waiting in the wings, of course. And Marlon Vera is coming off a big knockout of ex-champ Dominick Cruz. But Aldo already has a win over “Chito” Vera, and doesn’t seem to think any more wins past Dvalishvili, should that come to pass, will be necessary.
He also believes, if all goes according to plan, that it will be Sterling he’ll fight for gold.
“For a pick, I would say Aljo. For the moment that he’s going through in his career, I think he’s probably fighting at a high level and also I think Dillashaw had that time that he wasn’t fighting,” Aldo stated. “So I think that goes against him. I just think that for the moment, the way that Aljo’s fighting, he’s the one that’s going to get it.”
In the meantime, there’s Georgia’s Merab Dvalishvili to contend with, who expressed surprise that he even landed a fight with the former UFC and WEC champ. Simply put, Dvalishvili didn’t think he had a big enough name yet.
“It’s a sense of pride for someone to have that admiration for me, and for me to actually have what I built in my career to be recognized like that,” Aldo said in response. “But I’m always going to work hard, no matter who the opponent is.”
When it comes to Merab, “It’s a tough fight. No one wanted to fight him,” Aldo said, recalling that his immediate reaction to the bout offer was “I’ll take it.”
Still, while Aldo is “very happy for his words,” he added that “I’m going to go after him, because on that given night, each of us is fighting for something.”
Watch the full UFC 278 media day scrum with Jose Aldo above.