UFC champ Jose Aldo on fight culture: 'The money is what matters today'

After years of dominating the WEC and UFC featherweight divisions and going 10 full years without a loss, Jose Aldo's global reach and financial reward for his dominant success remained somewhat measured compared to that of his more talkative peers. 

But Aldo admits he learned a valuable lesson about the business from his 13-second knockout title loss to Conor McGregor at UFC 194 in December 2015. 

"What really gets you somewhere is to talk about your opponent and to sell your fight," Aldo said, through a Portuguese translator, during last week's UFC 212 news conference in Brazil. "The money is what matters today. [Against McGregor] I made a lot of money so that's what I think about today."

Aldo (26-2) has been unable to secure a rematch against McGregor and initially asked out of his UFC contract last year out of frustration regarding it. But a victory over Frankie Edgar in their UFC 200 rematch last July gave Aldo his featherweight championship back -- first on an interim level, and then completely after McGregor also captured the lightweight title and was forced to give up one of his belts. 

On June 3, Aldo will return to his native Brazil to defend his belt against interim titlist Max Holloway (17-3), who has won 10 straight fights since losing to McGregor in 2013. 

The buildup to their UFC 212 main event has seen the typically mild-mannered Aldo come out of his shell a bit and talk trash, which is something he wasn't afraid to openly share is merely a calculated move financially. 

"The athletes are really the matchmakers nowadays," Aldo said. "If the athletes go out and talk trash, the fight is going to happen. I think it's valid and I think it's normal. When the fight is over, we each will go our own ways but we'll have our pockets full and that's what matters. We have to go in and cuss and cuss out each other's moms but that's what brings in the money."

Aldo was willing to remove the fourth wall as a way to illustrate just how much the UFC, and mixed martial arts in general, has changed since his pro debut in 2004.  

"I think we are in a generation that is totally different than when I began in this sport," Aldo said. "We were athletes and fighters and there was respect and honor among us and a whole fight philosophy. It's like they say now that there is high-end fighters and there are real fighters and that's really the reality. Today, if you don't talk and you don't provoke, you're not going to fight anywhere. You're just going to stay at the end of the line. The rankings are no good."

Aldo said the honor and respect he first learned is still there inside of him but that he's willing to shed "this good boy status" because the athletes, behind the scenes, know the reason for the staged disrespect between each other. 

"It's a lot easy to get in the media and sell you some news that we know is going to be big and we know it's going to sell a lot of tickets," Aldo said. "If I want to come in here and say, 'Hey, I want to fight Manny Pacquiao,' we know it's going to be news tomorrow. It's like a snowball effect." 

CBS Sports Insider

Brian Campbell covers MMA, boxing and WWE. The Connecticut native joined CBS Sports in 2017 and has covered combat sports since 2010. He has written and hosted various podcasts and digital shows for ESPN... Full Bio

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