That there are three championship fights atop next week's UFC 245 marquee and Jose Aldo is not in one of them might seem like a come-down for the man who ruled the featherweight division for more than six years.
But the 33-year-old Brazilian (28-5), who faces Marlon Moraes (22-6-1) in his bantamweight debut lower on the main card, insists that he isn't even close to being finished.
Aldo met with the media this week in Brazil and spoke of his fighting future, which he expects to be long. He spoke about a fighter who beat him whom he wants to face again and one who defeated him whom he has no desire to rematch, as well as a loss he can't bear to watch on replay. He spoke about his new weight class and his new regimen to get him to the weigh-in scale. He even spoke of championship aspirations.
Here's Aldo, translated from Portuguese, on ...
Retirement: I'll fight to my 40s. I'm 33, so I still have seven more years. I have the dream of boxing, too. It will happen soon, I assure you that. But this is just the beginning of my bantamweight career.
Conor McGregor, who knocked him out in 13 seconds for the featherweight title in 2015: I don't think about fighting McGregor. I don't even know if he can still fight. One guy I still want to fight is Max Holloway. That is a guy who beat me twice. I can't see myself losing to anyone like this. I see myself going back to the featherweight division to face him one more time.
His loss to Alexander Volkanovski: It was a s---ty fight. I'll even apologize to everyone for that s---ty fight I put on. I can't do that. I wanted that fight, asked the fans to be there, and then I did nothing. I fought way less than I can do. Losses and wins are part of the game, no problem with that, but I have to give my best in every fight, win or lose. I didn't do anything there.
What led to that May defeat: I was too dumb. I had knee surgery, and everybody told me not to fight, but I was dumb to ask for a fight. It's no one's fault, nor an excuse for the loss. The moment I accept a fight, I have to be ready. I thought I could win, I was well-trained, I was in my city, but I didn't do what I should do and what [trainer] Dede [Pederneiras] asked me to.
Why losing to Volkanovski hurt more than losing to McGregor: It hurts a lot more, for sure. Conor and I, we fought, and he landed a good punch. In Rio [de Janeiro], it was about the performance. That's what bothers me. I couldn't do anything. I didn't try anything. If you lose but try something, OK. You get sad for the loss, but you tried, you fought. But that one, I'm embarrassed. I can't watch that fight.
What he expects to happen in the Holloway-Volkanovski fight: They both deserve to be at the top today. I think Max has had great performances and is developing a good fighting style. He has a rubber face that absorbs strikes well. Volkanovski has grown a lot, but I see Max Holloway as the favorite. He has the size advantage and a game that I just don't see how he loses. But if that happens, no problem. It's their problem. I'm thinking about the 14th, about Marlon.
How his loss to Volkanovski has propelled him to a new phase of his career: That could have been a final moment for me, but it lit a fire again and showed me I'm capable of becoming world champion again.
What has changed as he moves to bantamweight: New strategy, new category, pretty much a new life. The past is behind me. I am feeling very well physically and technically. I hope to make a good presentation on Dec. 14.
How his diet has changed: The diet is very restricted. I had to cut a lot of things -- things I liked, like pasta. I became a salad fan. I'm eating a lot of salad. It's like a good gasoline that we put inside the body.
"I see myself as a young kid again, but with more experience." JOSE ALDO
How much he weighed as he spoke Tuesday, 11 days from the fight: I woke up at 152 pounds. We are keeping that weight so I can cut even more when the fight gets closer.
What he anticipates from the weight cut to 135 pounds instead of 145: I'm very curious. I'm so much better physically and technically now that I'm anxious to get to fight week already. I want to get to next week to see how my weight cut goes. Everybody says it will be easy because my weight is going down fast. I even had to change my diet because I was down at 147 pounds, training hard, something I had trouble doing a week before the fight at featherweight. I'm training way lighter now. ... I'm sparring really well, like we always do, pushing all the way to the end and asking for more. I leave the mat and go to the treadmill to run more. It's crazy. I see myself as a young kid again, but with more experience.
What he foresees in his fight with Moraes: My expectations are the best. We know Marlon. We have already trained together, we have talked at events, but it is part of the business [to face a former teammate]. When the fight gets booked, each one defends his side, and each one defends his own interests.
His belief that a win could put him next in line to face champion Henry Cejudo: That is a fact. A win can have influence on a possible bantamweight title fight. I'm thinking only about Marlon right now. Once I get the win, I'll think about the next step.