Former UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo has asked to be released from his UFC contract. League president Dana White has pledged to find a way to work things out. Now Aldo and his coach, the extraordinarily respected founder of Nova Uniao Andre Pederneiras spoke with Kevin Iole for Yahoo Sportsabout their position.
Pederneiras is widely credited with bringing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, which had previously been for the most part a pursuit for the elite, to the poorest members of Brazilian society. Both fighter and coach have done an enormous amount to help the poor, far from the view of social media.
“We have so much poverty that many Americans can’t begin to fathom it,” explained Pederneiras. “There are communities where kids live in slums on the hill and they can’t leave the house on a given day because the drug lords are having a shootout so they can’t go to school that day. Or, it’s a situation where the father has been shot, the mother is working three jobs and still can’t put food on the table and the kids can’t go to school because they haven’t been fed for three days. … Jose Aldo came from that.”
“We have millions of kids who can mirror Jose Aldo and look to him and say, ‘He was where I am and he got out. I can, too.’ It’s motivated our entire country.”
The coach contrasted Aldo’s noble behavior with a series of slights that Aldo has suffered including asking him to take a fight on very short notice, not providing a rematch with McGregor either immediate or after the the Edgar fight, and more.
The fighter stressed that he holds no ill will towards White, and said White had been kind to both him and his family. But he said he had in the past been offered a contract to play professional soccer, and would now like to try that instead of mixed martial arts, for the UFC or any other organization.
Money always matters in professional sports, and Aldo does not feel his compensation is commensurate with his achievements. To the list of his grievances add that he never received one of the informal “locker room” bonuses; instead his compensation was from his show/win money, a cut of the PPV, and performance bonuses. Further, he said that several years ago when he spoke to the UFC about a super fight vs. the lightweight champion, he was told he would have to give up his featherweight belt immediately.
“Conor is not my issue,” said Aldo. “My issue is that I feel Dana is not in control any more. It’s a runaway train. Things have been promised and not delivered and he’s no longer in charge, no longer the boss.
“Frankly, it’s starting to feel like a circus with promises made and not kept. If that’s how it is going to be, I don’t want to be a part of it anymore.”
Aldo also said that he is aware of the argument that he doesn’t sell his fights adequately, but countered that is not who he is.
“That’s not the philosophy I was raised with. My coach is a martial artist. I’m a martial artist. What we do starts with respect,” he explained. “Where the sport is going is not respectful. The people who are selling fights are people who are giving each other the middle finger, throwing objects at press conferences, getting caught snorting cocaine and making headlines for all kinds of wrong reasons.
“What I was taught and what I believe in is, I do my best inside the cage. I believe people want to watch me for my ability as an athlete. … If the direction the sport is going is you’ve got to make headlines for the wrong reasons in order to be worthy of respect and in order to be worthy of the right income, it’s not something I’ll ever be on board with.”