Ex-champ Jose Aldo wants to finish his UFC contract as champion

CALGARY – Former UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo has three fights left on his contract, and he wants to hold the belt by the time it’s up.

“So that’s all the work that we’re going to doing for now,” Aldo (27-4 MMA, 9-3 UFC) told reporters through a translator after his stunning win over Jeremy Stephens (28-15 MMA, 15-14 UFC) in the co-headliner of Saturday’s UFC on FOX 29, which took place at Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. “I think the performance was good enough to catch the eyes of the matchmakers again, and show that I do belong here.

“I am a top fighter in this division, and I’m ready to get another title shot eventually in this run.”

The win over Stephens was particularly emotional for Aldo with a pressure-filled training camp and a rough start that saw him take several heavy punches. After dropping Stephens with a body shot in the first round, the Brazilian ex-champ broke down in tears.

Once the most dominant force at 145 pounds, Aldo was forced to confront his mortality with a pair of losses against current champ Max Holloway. He leaned on his team to bolster his confidence.

“A lot of people were looking at me and thinking, ‘Where is he now? Is he the same fighter that he was before?’ But I had my group behind me,” Aldo said. “I was able to keep calm and do the work.”

Now in the win column after a pair of losses, Aldo plans to reconvene with his family and colleagues back in Brazil. A quick turnaround might accomplish his goal more quickly, but he wants to enjoy the afterglow of his performance.

“It was a lot of work during camp, and I think it’s time to relax a little bit … and focus on something later in the year,” he said.

Asked whether he’d like to return to the Canadian city of Toronto, which hosted his first UFC fight – the record-breaking UFC 129 before over 55,000 fans – he welcomed the idea. UFC 231 takes place Dec. 8 in the country’s most populous city, and Aldo said he’s game to fight at the event.

“For me, it would be very special, and it makes sense,” he said. “It’s enough time for me to rest a little bit. The big thing is to get back home, rest a little bit, and figure out where we go from here. But it is a very good option.”

Stephens was actually an option Aldo previously considered as an opponent that would give him a good fight. That turned out to be a little bit more true than Aldo may have hoped, but in the end it turned out to be the best choice for his current position.

“He was a very tough fighter,” Aldo told MMAjunkie. “It was a fight that we did ask for a while back, but we finally got it. And he did the work we were expecting him to do. It was a very tough fight, and a good win for my comeback.”

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