Jose Aldo: I believe I will be fighting for the interim lightweight title

The featherweight champion was speaking exclusively to MMAFighting.com about his plans for 2017

BY Newstalk 11:38 Wednesday 21 December 2016, 11:38 21 Dec 2016

Image: John Locher AP/Press Association Images

Jose Aldo says he expects to fight for an interim lightweight title next year after claiming his unification bout with Max Holloway at 145lbs has been put on ice.

Aldo was upgraded to full featherweight champion after the UFC stripped Conor McGregor of his title following his victory in over Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 in November.

Max Holloway defeated Anthony Pettis at UFC 206 in Toronto on December 10 to secure the interim featherweight title but now the Brazilian has claimed that a unification bout has not been scheduled.

Speaking exclusively to MMAFighting.com he said: This fight [Holloway at UFC 208] was set. 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. 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 just talking shit."

Jose Aldo defeated Frankie Edgar at UFC 205 to claim the interim featherweight division. Image: John Locher AP/Press Association Images

Aldo vented his frustration at the decision by claiming he had never turned down a fight, to which Ariel Helwani asked whether he had turned down the chance to fight Conor McGregor at UFC 196 in March, following the withdrawal of Rafael dos Anjos.

"I didn't turn that down. [My coach] Andre Pederneiras turned down that fight and wouldn't let me take it. I've never personally turned down any fights.

"So I don't know what's going on with the fight right now. I know that I want to fight. I've been planning on fighting on the card. I asked for that card. When Holloway started talking shit, we approached UFC and made clear that I want to fight in Brooklyn. I'm flexible about my opponent. I even said, 'Why don't I go up in weight class and fight the No. 1 or No. 2 contender and start setting up a rematch with McGregor?' There was some enthusiasm for that idea, but my understanding is, some fighters turned down that fight. The UFC can't put together a match-up if fighters are turning down fights. But I just want to be very clear: Me, Jose Aldo, I don't turn down fights. I don't turn down opponents. I don't choose opponents.

"So, there's a lot of shit now being talked by Holloway, saying I don't show up. That couldn't be further from the truth. There's a lot of people turning down fights against me in Brooklyn, and Holloway is one of them."

Going up in weight would see him challenge at 155lbs and the 30-year-old says that an interim title fight is now in the works.

"I now expect and believe I will be fighting in early March. Either March 3 or March 4, 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."

Of course, Aldo also had a dig at the man who dethroned him last December in just 13 seconds by claiming he was not the real champion at 145lbs.

"The champion is the person that defends the belt, not the person that gets the belt and flees the division. I should have gotten an immediate rematch. It was completely warranted and what should have happened. It didn't happen, though. When they gave me Frankie Edgar, I knew that belt wasn't going to remain the interim belt.

"I knew Conor wasn't coming back; everyone knew he wasn't coming back. That's the real belt. I'm the one that has defended this belt. I've been the king of this division for a long time. I've never not seen myself as a champion. I lost a fight. That's it. I knew that I was going to be the champion of this division and that's how I still see myself. I've always been the champion.

"When I lost to Conor, he should have rematched me right away. Like I've always said and done, the champion is the guy who defends the belt against all challengers. Guys who run from title defenses are not champions. All Conor did was he beat the champion. But he never did what he had to do to become the champion. He's never been the champion of the featherweight division.

"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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