Jonathan Martinez shares hilarious reaction to welcoming Jose Aldo back from retirement at UFC 301

Jonathan Martinez was waiting on a call about his next fight in the UFC when his manager reached out to him this past Friday with a name he definitely wasn’t expecting.

Currently on a six-fight winning streak, the 29-year-old bantamweight contender hoped for a higher-ranked opponent, especially after a pair of jaw-dropping finishes in which he chopped down Cub Swanson and Adrian Yanez with a blistering series of leg kicks.

Martinez isn’t one to turn down fights regardless of the name, but he had to do a double take after the name Jose Aldo was uttered.

“I think it was after sparring, my manager called me and he was like, ‘Do you want to fight Jose Aldo?’ And I was like Jose Aldo?” Martinez told MMA Fighting. “I even asked who’s that? [He said] ‘Jose Aldo!’ And I was like, ‘Oh damn, yeah, I want to fight him.’”

A former featherweight champion and UFC Hall of Famer, Aldo retired from active competition back in 2022, so Martinez wasn’t even thinking about him as a potential opponent.

“It was pretty crazy – I had to let it sink in a little bit,” Martinez said. “I was ready to fight soon. I was telling my manager, and Jose’s name came up. It is a huge name. The fight’s good, and I know he’s been boxing and stuff. I feel like he’s gotten better. When people get older, they start going down, but he’s been looking good. I’m excited to see that version.”

While he was initially shocked to hear Aldo’s name as an opponent, Martinez doesn’t put the former UFC champion on a pedestal, because at the end of the day, they’re going to fight on May 4 in Brazil.

As much as he respects Aldo and the ex-champ’s résumé, Martinez recognizes the rare opportunity ahead as the co-main event on a pay-per-view card like UFC 301.

“I don’t get excited like that,” Martinez said. “When I fought Cub Swanson, the same thing. You put that in front of me, it’s kind of going to mess with my head, so it’s just another guy in there. I’ve just got to go in there and show I’m better than him.”

Martinez appreciates that he was selected as the opponent, not only because it’s a boost for his career, but it also shows that the UFC isn’t trying to give Aldo a pass in his return from retirement.

If anything, Aldo may end up being a sizable underdog considering his time off between fights and the impressive run Martinez has been on lately.

“To me, I think they like this matchup because me and him, it’s the two kickers in the division,” Martinez said. “Out of all the [bantamweights], I kick a lot and he used to kick and maybe he’ll bring it back this time.

“I’m going to try to mix everything up. He’s really good everywhere, so I’m going to do everything. It’s mixed martial arts so some fights I throw kicks, some fights I don’t. We’ll see.”

Martinez will undoubtedly experience a hostile environment in Rio de Janeiro thanks to Aldo’s celebrity in his home country. That kind of raucous reception – fans famously chant “you’re going to die” at some fighters – is something that excites him. For the first time in over three years, he’ll actually have thousands of fans at his fight.

“Boo me or cheer for me, it doesn’t bother me,” Martinez said. “Them booing me, it doesn’t really get in my head or nothing like that. I’m actually going to have some noise, which is way better than fighting in the quiet [UFC] APEX.”

Aldo’s long layoff came after he dropped a decision to Merab Dvalishvili in a fight that could have put him back in line for another title shot. He ultimately decided to call it a career, but was still ranked near the top of the division at 135 pounds when he retired.

Aldo remains a massive name thanks to his laundry list of accomplishments and Martinez expects that beating him will make a bigger impression than facing off with an unranked bantamweight.

“I’m excited for that,” Martinez said. “Honestly just to show them my skill and show that I do belong in the top five. I go get him out of there, he’s going to bring a lot of eyes. So that’s my goal, to go in there and get him out of there.”