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Aldo claims his next fight will be for an interim UFC lightweight title

The featherweight champion had been expecting to fight Max Holloway in a unification bout in February.

UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo.
UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo.
Image: Tommy Lakes/The42

INSTEAD OF FACING Max Holloway in February, Jose Aldo says his next fight will be for an interim UFC lightweight title in March.

In an extensive interview with Ariel Helwani of MMAFighting.com, Aldo claimed that he’s on the verge of moving up to the 155lbs division, where Conor McGregor is the reigning champion.

A fortnight after becoming the first UFC fighter to hold belts in two separate weight classes, McGregor was stripped of the featherweight strap last month having not defended it in the 11 months since he won it from Aldo thanks to a 13-second knockout last December.

Aldo, who defeated Frankie Edgar in an interim featherweight title bout in July, was subsequently reinstalled as the champion in the 145lbs division. The Brazilian had been expected to face Max Holloway in a unification bout at UFC 208 in Brooklyn on 11 February.

“This  fight was set,” Aldo said. “We had told the UFC we wanted to fight on that date. For us, it was set. The UFC said, OK, and they asked that we not discuss it any further before UFC 206.”

Holloway defeated Anthony Pettis earlier this month at UFC 206 in Toronto to become the interim UFC featherweight champion. The Hawaiian told FOX Sports that he’s keen to take on Aldo but the 11 February date won’t give him enough time to prepare as he sustained an ankle injury while getting the better of Pettis.

Aldo continued: “I was told the winner of the Max Holloway and Anthony Pettis fight would be my opponent in Brooklyn, and my understanding was that both Holloway and Pettis were told the same thing before their fight.

“After that fight, Holloway said a bunch of different things. First, I heard he twisted his ankle and wouldn’t have time to heal. Then I heard he had a trip booked to Disney World with his kids and he wouldn’t be able to reschedule. Then I heard his gym is closed during the holidays and he wouldn’t have enough time to train.

“So he’s basically going around, talking a lot of trash, saying a lot of bullshit and acting like a punk. He’s just talking shit.”

UFC 206 Mixed Martial Arts Max Holloway won the interim UFC featherweight title last month. Source: John Locher

With the Holloway fight now seemingly no longer an option, Aldo says he’s been offered an interim lightweight title bout for UFC 209 in Las Vegas on 4 March instead. McGregor defeated Eddie Alvarez to become the undisputed lightweight champion last month, but — with his girlfriend expecting their first child in May and some financial issues to resolve with the UFC –  the Dubliner is currently on hiatus.

“No, the Brooklyn fight is not happening,” Aldo said. “I  now expect and believe I will be fighting in early March. Either 3 March or 4 March, I can’t remember. I believe they will soon announce an interim lightweight title fight with me. They’ve been trying to find me an opponent, and — surprise, surprise — at least one has already turned down the fight against me. I’m waiting to see who they will find.”

Aldo added: “A guy we never thought would turn it down turned it down, because his father didn’t think it was good. I’m tired of people turning down fights. I want to put some pressure on so they’ll take the fight.”

As for McGregor, Aldo said ‘The Notorious’ has been avoiding a rematch ever since their brief meeting at UFC 194 last year. After winning the featherweight belt, McGregor moved up in weight and clinched the lightweight title after a couple of welterweight bouts against Nate Diaz.

Aldo: “The first thing we did after my fight with McGregor was ask for the rematch, and it should have happened. We’ve tried to make that fight a lot of times, as has the UFC.

“When I sat down with Dana [White, UFC president], and explained to him all the reasons why I was frustrated as a fighter, he said to me, ‘I’ve tried to make the fight. [Conor] doesn’t want to fight you. I can’t force [Conor] to fight you. You and I, Jose, we want this rematch to happen. But he’s not saying yes’. We’ve been trying, but the problem isn’t on my side of the equation.

“I went to bed one night believing the UFC was going to announce my rematch with Conor McGregor and I woke up to read the news that they booked Eddie Alvarez instead. My conversations with the UFC were, ‘It’s happening. We’re booking it’. And then literally overnight something changed without my participation.

UFC 194 Mixed Martial Arts Conor McGregor knocked out Jose Aldo just over 12 months ago. Source: AP/Press Association Images

“The bottom line is, Conor doesn’t want to fight me. There’s nothing else I can do. I don’t think there’s anything else the UFC can do. If he keeps saying no and keeps running away, he’s going to keep running away. He’s a clown.

“He’s two-faced. He says a lot of stuff to the press, but behind the scenes he turns down fights left and right. He picks opponents, he picks events. He’s not willing to face challengers the way a champion should be ready to face challengers. That’s not a true champion.

“He spent a year without defending the belt, so his math doesn’t add up when he says, ‘I was the champion for less than 12 months’. He wasn’t the champion at all. He never defended the belt. He wanted to stall an entire division. That’s not being a champion. I’ve never seen Conor as the featherweight champion. He’s not the champion now. I’ve never stopped being the featherweight champion.”

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Paul Dollery

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