David Shaw: Aldo Return “Unequivocally” Highlight of UFC 301

David Shaw, UFC London
UFC Vice-President David Shaw, UFC London Post-Event Scrum. Credit: Gabriel Gonzalez/Cageside Press

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – At Saturday’s UFC 301, the “King of Rio,” Jose Aldo, returned, coming away from the card with a decisive, thrilling win over a ranked bantamweight in Jonathan Martinez.

It was a scene UFC Senior Vice President of International and Content, David Shaw, later told media outlets including Cageside Press was “unequivocally the highlight of the night.”

“To me the energy level was at peak during that fight,” said Shaw, who noted that the fan reception to Aldo was “as intense, as fervent as we’ve every seen.”

As for Aldo himself, Shaw suggested that “from my perspective he looked sharp, he looked quick, he looked engaged. He looked like he enjoyed himself, which was different from I think the last few fights we saw prior to his retirement a few years ago.”

Shaw added that it was “special” to have Aldo on the card, given UFC 301 was the promotion’s 40th trip to Brazil, making it the most visited destination outside of the U.S.

As for a potential return to Brazil, which once saw up to five events per year, fans can expect one more in 2024.

“It’s fluid every year. The years prior to COVID, we aimed to get here three times, we’ll probably get here two times this year. We’re still pushing to be a true global sport, so we want to make sure we have enough events for all of our international regions. But make no mistake, Brazil is a priority market for us.”

Of over 600 fighters, Shaw pointed out that over 100 are Brazilian, over 20 of them ranked. As for touching down in new destinations in Brazil, or South America as a whole, “not in 2024, but absolutely, we’re looking at Ecuador in 2025,” Shaw stated.

Watch the full UFC 301 post-fight press conference with UFC Senior Vice President of International and Content David Shaw above.