UFC 301: Jose Aldo Explains What Happened with Rumored Cruz Match-up

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil — After a brief retirement and foray into boxing, former UFC and WEC champion and UFC Hall of Fame member Jose Aldo returns at UFC 301 in Rio this Saturday.

The bout is reportedly the final fight on Aldo’s UFC contract, potentially opening up some big opportunities moving forward. It also gives him a chance to close out his UFC career, if it does turn out to be his last fight, on a win, having come up short against Merab Dvalishvili at UFC 278 in 2022.

Aldo (31-8) faces Jonathan Martinez this Saturday, but the talk during the UFC 301 media day was mostly about a rumored fight with Dominick Cruz. And yes, the Cruz bout was in the works, Aldo confirmed.

“When I started talking to Dana and Sean about my comeback, there was no plans for Rio, no names of opponents or anything,” explained Aldo, clarifying that the location had nothing to do with the fight falling through. “At first the name we were talking about was Dominick Cruz, we were set to fight Dominick Cruz, but he had some problems with his camp. And then we got Jonathan Martinez, and it just ended up being in Rio. So it was a coincidence.”

Aldo, considered by many one of if not the best featherweights of all time, is well aware of the fan interest for that particular match-up. But, he added, Cruz wasn’t a name he was seeking out, because of the former bantamweight champ’s recent struggles.

“I think the fans have been waiting to watch that fight. Two former champions from the WEC days, two former UFC champions,” Aldo acknowledged. “But he’s not the one that I asked for. I wanted to get someone in the top 5, that’s specifically when I asked the UFC. Dominick’s coming off a series of losses, and Jonathan Martinez is coming off a bunch of wins.”

Watch the full UFC 301 media day appearance by Jose Aldo above.