We’ve seen Jose Aldo lose before, but never in the fashion he did when he fought Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 237 earlier this month in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Prior to the Volkanovski fight, the former UFC featherweight champion Aldo had lost four times in his career — once by submission to Luciano Azevedo back in 2005, and then three times by knockout in the UFC, twice to Max Holloway and once to Conor McGregor. The Volkanovski fight was the first time Jose Aldo lost a decision in his 15 years as a pro, and many were left puzzled by the Brazilian’s performance in the fight.
According to Aldo’s coach Andre Pederneiras, the reason his pupil dropped a decision was because he “froze” during the match.
“Aldo had big expectations of winning by knockout, he really anticipated that moment,” Pederneiras told Combate (as transcribed by Bloody Elbow). “Volkanovski would touch him, run, and Aldo couldn’t find his distance to put his hands on him and really look for the knockout. That wait let the Australian score points throughout the rounds. In my point of view, (Volkanovski) never won all three rounds, maybe a split decision would have been the most logical outcome, but Aldo himself allowed that to happen. He said it himself that he froze when he should have attacked and finished the fight. Those things happen in a fight.”
Pederneiras explained that fighting in front of all the Brazilian fans at Jeunesse Arena may have played a role in Aldo’s flat performance, though the athlete himself won’t admit it.
“I ask him, he (Jose Aldo) tells me no, but I think it does mess with you,” Pederneiras said. “It’s something that happens, you can’t do anything about it. That can lead a person to freezing. Because he is so experienced, we thought it would not happen, but he’s an athlete, a human being. It could happen to anyone, he had never frozen before.”
Jose Aldo (28-5) had won back-to-back fights by TKO over Jeremy Stephens and Renato Moicano before the Volkanovski loss. It’s hard to say that he’s on a decline at age 32 just because of one lackluster loss to a top contender in Volkanovski, and judging by what his coach said it seems like it was just one of those nights where Aldo didn’t have it.