José Aldo Explains How He Didn’t Let The Biggest Set Back Of His Career Define His Future

Former featherweight champion José Aldo is riding high off an impressive victory in his venture out of retirement at UFC 301 earlier this month, and he has recently opened up on mentally overcoming his 2015 loss to Conor McGregor.

Aldo (32-8) made a successful comeback at 135-pounds with a unanimous decision win over Jonathan Martinez (19-5) when the UFC travelled to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on May 4th.

On a recent episode of The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, Aldo touched on his past loss to McGregor, which ended in a spectacular knockout in just 13 seconds.

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“You know, it doesn’t matter who the loss is to, it could’ve been McGregor, it could’ve been anybody. Loss is a part of the game and I understand that being a champion was always in my mind no matter what happened. To be a champion of the UFC is always what I set out to do and what I worked for so losses can happen along the way. You talk about fights against Max, against Volk, those are losses that can happen but my desire to be a champion, when a loss like that happens, you go back to the gym and you say I need to work more. I need to work to be the champion that I want to be.

“You can just ride it out and leave the game early and you just stay with that bitter taste, just the bitter part of history in there but then, you build the story off of it and if you can come back and if you actually stay in this game for long and if you continue to work, you will enjoy the laurels of you work and actually being a champion and that’s what I wanted. No matter what the opponent was, and I said it could’ve been McGregor, it was hit time to do it at that time and it can be, but I had the chance to back and I said to myself after a loss like this, I have to work more, I have to work harder and I want to be a champion just like I’ve always set out to do.”


Given the mentality of Aldo, it is no surprise that he followed the loss of his title to McGregor with 12 more UFC appearances between 2016 and his retirement in 2022. Now, Aldo has returned to action, and he is seemingly competing at the same pace as when he decided to step away.

It is important to remember, that Aldo did not just become athletically inactive in retirement. Through 2023, he registered 2 wins and 1 draw in professional boxing, certainly not the typical way to enjoy retirement.


Conor McGregorJonathan MartinezJose AldoMMAUFCUFC 301