Jose Aldo displayed his versatility in a much-needed victory against Marlon Vera in the UFC Fight Night 183 co-main event on Saturday night.
The former featherweight king had a strong opening round that was highlighted by numerous ripping body shots, but Vera seized momentum in the Round 2 behind a steady diet of leg kicks and clinch work. Aldo shifted gears in the final stanza, when he landed a takedown and spent the majority of the round attached to Vera’s back. That was enough to seize the scorecards by a trio of 29-28 counts.
“I knew I had a very good first round. In the second round, he came more aggressive. That told me I needed to win the third round,” Aldo said. “That position is one I train a lot. I know it’s very strong. That’s why I was able to win the round.”
That snapped a three-bout skid for the Nova Uniao star, who was coming off a brutal beating in the late rounds against Petr Yan in a bantamweight title bout this past July. Prior to that, Aldo suffered a controversial split-decision setback against Marlon Moraes in his 135-pound debut at UFC 245. Regarded by many as the sport’s greatest featherweight, Aldo says he is still finding his footing in a new division.
“I’m getting used to [bantamweight],” he said. “I got Marlon Moraes in the first fight and then the title shot. Now that it’s my third fight, I feel better. I’m getting more confident at this weight. I know I have a long path. So I’m looking at it one a step at a time.”
Aldo remains a popular opponent for many of the top stars in the sport, as evidenced by being the preferred challenger for former champion Henry Cejudo and remaining the No. 1 contender for Yan despite not having a bantamweight win to his credit. This time around, however, it was Aldo who called out ex-title holder T.J. Dillashaw, who has been sidelined for two years due to an anti-doping violation.
Aldo simply believes it’s a matchup that fans could get behind.
“Two former champs, I think people would like to see that,” he said. “[T.J. Dillashaw] was the former champ at a bantamweight and I was the champ at featherweight. I think people would like to see it.”
Dillashaw responded to the callout, although in a more general sense.
“I heard everyone is calling me out, cause they all know that’s my belt,” he wrote on Twitter.
I heard everyone is calling me out, cause they all know that’s my belt @ufc— TJ Dillashaw (@TJDillashaw) December 20, 2020