This weekend at UFC 136, featherweight champion Jose Aldo finds himself in easily the biggest fight of his career with former lightweight title-contender Kenny Florian vying for belt. However, the magnitude of the match-up might be lost on some given Aldo’s conscious decision to avoid media appearances during the build up to the bout.
Aldo recently discussed the source of his seclusion, as well as offered some thoughts on what he feels Florian has to offer as an opponent and how he sees things unfolding Saturday night in Houston.
“My coach realized that too (many) interviews were making me unfocused…I had to go too many events, (traveling) to São Paulo and other states, and my life was a mess,” Aldo explained in a conversation with Tatame. “It helped me a lot.”
Given Florian’s past success against a number of top-level opponents, Aldo is not underestimating him at all though he still feels he’ll be able to handle anything the Ultimate Fighter alumnus has to offer.
“He has a (a lot of) experience and I can’t underestimate his elbows, because (they’re) something he uses a lot and he’s good at it…he owns a powerful high kick,” said Aldo of Florian’s offerings. “I gotta stay tuned to these tricks, but I’m sure I’ll block them.”
“He’s very good when he’s on top, but when he has his back against the floor he doesn’t do anything,” Aldo continued. “He just hits you with his elbows and keeps his guard closed. When he opens it, his opponents get an advantage. I trained a lot and I’m sharp in all situations…It doesn’t matter if he wants to bang, I’ll do it. If he wants to fight on the ground, it’s okay by me. I’ll get there and go for it.”
However, Aldo isn’t necessarily expecting Florian to exchange strikes with him and feels the fight will likely take place on the mat more so than while standing.
“All fights start with both athletes standing, but honestly I don’t believe he’ll want to bang with me, he won’t risk it. He’s a guy who doesn’t take risks. You can notice it (in past) fights…you’ll realize he didn’t start trading punches with anyone from the beginning. He always tries to get away from it with a jab or a punch and then grab you and take you into his game.”
Whether the bulk of the bout takes place on the ground or elsewhere remains to be seen but one thing is certain – Aldo will be looking to prove Florian isn’t the only one who “finishes fights”.
“I hope not,” Aldo said with a chuckle about going another five rounds as he did in his previous fight against Mark Hominick. “I prepared myself to go for a submission or the knockout and really go forward, to attack a lot. But in case I can’t finish it before the regular time is over, I’ll fight for five rounds and I’ll do my best not to make them suffer. My affection to all my fans who root for me. You can be sure Jose Aldo is going for it!”
Aldo is 19-1 overall and has won twelve straight including success in WEC/UFC against the likes of Hominick, Manny Gamburyan, Mike Brown, and Urijah Faber.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC
MMATraining Take: How can fans not be excited about UFC 136, especially given this pairing in particular? Florian will be a huge measuring stick for Aldo and give the MMA community a true sense of how phenomenal “Scarface” truly is or how far he might go in the sport. His past wins have been impressive without question but none have come against a guy like Florian who is skilled in all areas, has fought for UFC titles before, or beaten a slew of highly-talented, heavier adversaries like Roger Huerta or Clay Guida. And, comparably, if Florian picks up the win not only will it prove he still has a lot more to offer in the Octagon, even at age 35, and will also fulfill the longtime goal of a deserving UFC veteran.