LAS VEGAS – Rob Font knows his upcoming clash with former UFC featherweight champ Jose Aldo is an important one, but he also believes it’s a spectacular opportunity to prove his own worth in the stacked bantamweight division.
And while a win over an MMA legend is valuable, Font knows if he can end the fight before it goes a full five rounds, that would truly elevate his stock.
“You know, beating Aldo is cool, but finishing Aldo is way better,” Font told MMA Junkie at Wednesday’s media day at the UFC Apex.
Font (19-4 MMA, 9-3 UFC) and Aldo (30-7 MMA, 12-6 UFC) meet in the headlining bout of Saturday’s UFC on ESPN 31 event, which airs on ESPN and streams live on ESPN+ from the UFC Apex. It’s a big fight at 135 pounds, with Font currently ranked No. 5 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMA Junkie bantamweight rankings and Aldo just behind at No. 8.
But in his 13-year tenure in the UFC and WEC, Aldo has built a name that provides much more stature than any number beside it ever could, and Font is acutely aware of that fact.
“Main event, obviously former champion, but it’s a little different with the experience he has, how durable he is,” Font said. “The guy’s been around forever. You know, people are crazy to say he’s old. He’s only 35 years old. He has a lot more wear and tear on him than I do, but he’s right there. He’s put together two back-to-back wins. He’s beat, obviously, Pedro Munhoz, a guy I’ve lost to, so he’s he’s looking sharp.
“This is a dangerous fight. It’s a tough fight, but this is a fight, you know, we need, we want, and we’re excited for.”
Font may not currently have the type of name recognition that his opponent boasts, but he’s certainly deserving of his position. The 34-year-old contender has rattled off consecutive wins over Cody Garbrandt, Marlon Moraes, Ricky Simon and Sergio Pettis, and he credits a mental adjustment for his current form.
“I think for me, it was more of, like, just kind of not trying to make everything perfect and not worrying about making everything perfect and not being afraid to look dumb out there, you know?” Font said. “Just go out there, just try things, and figure it out. Once I kind of got that in me and, like, just really was a, ‘Nah, we’re just going out there and we’re just playing. We’re not trying to force plays. We’re just going to go out there and play,’ I kind of really bought into that, and just really did it. It was over. Like, I just started having fun, started smiling, and we put four together.”
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In addition to an important fight, the contest looks as though it could be quite entertaining, as well. Both fighters have shown the ability to strike at the highest level of the game, with Font’s boxing among the best in the business and Aldo’s muay Thai truly legendary.
Font couldn’t help but smile when he considered the possibilities.
“I think it’s in the DNA,” Font said. “He doesn’t know how not to put on an exciting fight, you know? So yeah, I’m excited. This is exactly what we wanted. It’s exactly, like I say, we need, and I’m just blessed and grateful for this opportunity.”
If Font’s happy with his current position, he’s likely to be downright ecstatic with what will come his way with a victory – and should it be a finish, like he hopes, things could skyrocket even farther from there.
Font’s watching the whole division, including reigning champion Aljamain Sterling and interim titleholder Petr Yan as they prepare for an expected rematch to unify the titles.
“There’s some options,” Font said. “The champ’s still out, and I guess there’s rumors of that fight happening again. I think best case scenario – and I’m not wishing anything on him – if Aljamain can’t or he’s not healthy enough to fight, I think, you know, like we strip him of the belt. Me and Yan end up getting in a fight for the belt. Obviously, if they fight, hopefully a big finish or a win does enough for me to get the title shot after they fight, but, you know, there’a still T.J. Dillashaw out there.
“It’s kind of like, all right, worst case, you know, I get T.J. to get to the shot – and then there’s still Cory Sandhagem, There’s so many options. I’m not even thinking title right now. I’ve got this killer in front of me, and I’ve got two more killers in front of me. … I just want to get in there, get finished with this fight, and then we’ll talk from there.
To see the full interview with Font, check out the video above.
Rob Font def. Ricky Simon at UFC on ESPN 7: Best photos
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