Jose Aldo and Cris Cyborg share a few things in common. They both reigned at the top of the featherweight mountain in mixed martial arts for years and years, arguably the greatest of all times in their weight classes, and both lost their crowns in less than a minute.
The Nova Uniao star was unbeaten for a decade when Conor McGregor dropped him with a left hand to become the UFC titleholder in just 13 seconds. Cyborg, who also hadn’t been beaten since 2005, lost her gold in a 51-second knockout defeat to Amanda Nunes.
The former UFC champions sat down to chat on Cyborg’s YouTube channel Friday and discussed how their lives changed after losing titles so quickly.
“We never expect to lose — and lose like that,” Aldo said. “It’s a sport and it’s 50-50, of course, it could happen one day. As long as we’re fighting, losing is a possibility, but I was so confident in my head going into this fight. ‘No, I’m super well-prepared, I can’t see how this guy wins.’ For everything that was said and everything that was going on, my team and I were positive that we would get there and defeat him. And that’s not what happened.”
Aldo admits he started having “doubts in my head” after going down in just 13 seconds following a long training camp. He also recalled reaching out to Cyborg for advice on how to “get my chin strong” because he thought “I have to train this aspect because the guy landed one punch and I went down, I have a bad chin.”
The UFC booked a rematch between Aldo and Frankie Edgar for an interim belt at UFC 200, and Aldo admits he fought “playing safe, not taking risks, not putting myself in danger because that was a fight I had to win no matter how.” The Brazilian star won a decision that night, and was later promoted to undisputed champion after the company stripped McGregor of his belt.
“Right after that I said, ‘no, I’m the champion, that was only one fact that will never happen again in my life. That’s why I have to train twice as hard, see the mistakes I made and never make them again,’” Aldo said.
Cyborg’s reign was also shattered in seconds. However, at the end of the day, she felt “a weight getting off my back” after losing at UFC 232.
The former Strikeforce, Invicta FC and UFC queen says her nine-month camp for Nunes was chaotic, switching managers and teams, but still felt “in my heart that I was prepared.”
“I think that’s something wrong when there are no problems in my camp because I always have a problem in my camp and that motivates me,” Cyborg said. “I trained nine months for that fight and had so much stress around me. It’s not an excuse, but I acted emotionally in the fight. It’s not what I trained, I acted emotionally. … We never think we’re going to lose in the first round. You say ‘I’ll give my all, I’ll go until the end, and if they defeat me, I’m going until the end.’ That’s what we think.”
“The worst thing there is after you lose a fight is to take a shower,” she continued. “You take a shower by yourself and that flash comes in your head all the time, and then you start to question (yourself). One side says something, the other side says something else. There’s a fight inside your head every time you take a shower. The week after that fight was a difficult moment.”
“I see everything that happened as something for the better because I definitely became a better athlete and a better person, and I’m grateful,” Cyborg said. “I’m grateful for everything that happened.”
“The Lioness” Nunes continues to reign as a two-division champion in the UFC, and Cyborg awaits her next contender in the Bellator cage. That said, the “Grand Slam Champion” hasn’t given up on the idea of promotion a cross-promotion clash with Nunes.
“It’s not a dream, it’s a goal in MMA, to do something different,” Cyborg said. “A super fight between the Bellator champion and the UFC champion, Amanda Nunes and I. I think it would help MMA a lot.”