A HOUSEHOLD NAME
Jose Aldo defended his belt seven times in the UFC.
You can’t take that away from him. A guy like that is always going to be a threat.
I remember watching his first title defence against Mark Hominick back in 2011. It was Jose’s first appearance in the UFC after the merger with World Extreme Cagefighting. By the end of the fight, I knew I’d seen something special.
He absolutely brutalised Hominick and left him with the biggest haematoma I’d ever seen on the top of his head. If you haven’t seen it, Google it. You’ve honestly never seen anything like it!
People have forgotten just how dangerous Aldo is. Just look at his last two fights. He dropped Jeremy Stephens with a brutal body shot and then overwhelmed Renato Moicano.
He hasn’t developed a weak chin. Aside from that 13-second knockout to Conor McGregor, Jose’s only other defeats in the UFC were to Max Holloway, who out-grinded him for a TKO victory on both occasions.
The game may have evolved in many ways, but Jose is still an elite fighter.
When we meet, I’m expecting him to throw plenty of those leg kicks which have made him so famous over the years. I’m expecting him to try that early but, with the pressure I’m going to put on him, it won’t be easy for him to fire anything off.
I’m going to throw things at Jose that he’s never had to deal with before.
One big advantage for him is that we are fighting in Brazil. He will have a whole nation cheering him on. That will help him lift when things aren’t going his way.
Fighting in enemy territory doesn’t bother me in the slightest, though.
I fought in Los Angeles, which was Chad’s hometown. From the moment I walked out, I barely heard the crowd at all. I get tunnel vision. I only heard my corner man and saw what was in front of me. That’s it.
Brazilian people are very passionate and they value respect. I have the utmost respect for the country and for Jose. I hope that I’ve earned theirs by the end of the night.
When I set that suffocating tempo of mine, Jose will drown in the octagon. If he’s thinking about retirement, he won’t have the desire to deal with what I’m going to bring.
Aside from title fights, I think this is the biggest fight for an Aussie in the history of the UFC. It’s going to make me a household name. These are the cards you want to be on. The ones that have the eyes of the world watching.
The legend, Anderson Silva, will be fighting on home soil for perhaps the last time in the UFC. He’ll be taking on Jared Cannonier. Rose Namajunas will also be defending her strawweight title against a Brazilian named Jessica Andrade.
It doesn’t get any better.
I fought Chad on a huge card, and my career went to another level. Social media went crazy, with everyone mentioning my name as a title contender. After this card, I’m expecting my whole life to transform.
A win over Jose and I’ll be undefeated in the UFC after seven fights. I’ll be 17-0 in MMA since I moved to featherweight.
With a record like that, who could deny me the next shot at the title?
WHAT I’M FIGHTING FOR
There was one big downside to taking this fight. It was on the same day as my best mate’s wedding back in Australia. His name is Eli. He’d asked me to be his best man.
People might say, ‘Who cares?’. But loyalty means everything to me. I love my family and friends. Missing the wedding was a big deal to me.
When I say Eli is my best mate, I mean that. Growing up, we were what all other friendships in our neighbourhood were compared to. All these years later, we’re still inseparable.
When I accepted the fight, I was determined to make the sacrifice worth it. But you wouldn’t believe it, I’ve just found out that Eli and his fiancé, Lauren, will be changing the date so I can make the wedding. That means more to me than I can put into words. I can’t thank them enough.
It makes me even more determined to put in a good performance in Brazil. I’m going to fucking make sure I beat Aldo now, and repay their faith in me.
It won’t be the first time friends and family have spurred me on.
I’ll give you an example. Two days out from my fight against Darren Elkins in Idaho last year, I tore my intercostal rib cartilage. I couldn’t train and could hardly get out of bed, I was in that much pain. I got a bit teary thinking that I couldn’t fight, which wasn’t much help because the crying was hurting my ribs!
Most people wouldn’t have fought in that condition. But I’d been away from my family for five weeks. We needed the money. I wasn’t going to let an injury stop me from supporting them.
In the warm-up, I couldn’t throw a right hand because it would take the wind out of me. I had to wait for the adrenaline to kick in, so I could fight.
I had enough in me to get the job done. There was no other option.
I’m not spending time away from loved ones for no reason. Some people fight for legacy. Some people fight for money.
Family and friends are my motivation. Nothing compares to that.