For the first time in his 14-year fighting career, former featherweight champion Jose Aldo entered the cage coming off back-to-back loses on Saturday. Aldo faced No. 4 ranked Jeremy Stephens in the UFC Calgary co-main event at Scotiabank Saddledome in Canada.
Stephens entered the bout on a three-fight winning streak and took the fight to the former champion. “Lil Heathen” pressed forward and the two exchanged hard leg kicks in the early going of the opening round. Stephens continues to pressure Aldo and hurt the Brazilian with a counter right hand.
Aldo, as he’s known to do when hurt, exploded forward with offense. He used head movement to avoid absorbing power shots and put together a combination that cut Stephens below the right eye. Aldo stepped in with a right hand to the body followed by a left that dug into the side of Stephens. Stephens had a bit of a delayed reaction but could not conceal the pain on his face as he crumbled to the canvas. Aldo followed him to the ground and delivered punches and hammer fists until referee Yves Lavigne stepped in to stop the fight. It was Aldo’s first finish inside the octagon since 2013.
“I was a little bit worried to lose the fight,” said Aldo following the win. “I was practicing a lot and was really excited to be here, so I’m glad I pulled through.”
With the win, Aldo will remain the No. 2 contender in the 145-pound division. The 31-year old has vowed to win back the belt that he once held before the end of his career. On Saturday, he moved a bit closer to getting back to a title fight.
“The champion is back. I’ve just got to keep it up,” he said.