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Jose Aldo sees boxing career near as time in UFC winds down

Jose Aldo has only two bouts left on his UFC contract but wants to keep fighting -- in boxing. Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports

Former UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo, in an exclusive interview with ESPN, reiterated his interest in becoming a boxer once his MMA career is over, and said it could happen soon.

"My plan is to fight Alexander Volkanovski on May 11," Aldo said last week. "Then I'll have only one fight left in my [UFC] contract, which I plan to have. But I already have another thing in mind: boxing.

"I want to push myself. I'm not here for a specific match. I won't call anyone out. I want to start from the bottom, really push myself, get ranked and who knows ... fight for the title one day. Of course, my name already puts me ahead of lots of guys."

There is one catch. Aldo and longtime trainer Andre "Dede" Pederneiras have already made it clear: They want Aldo's final MMA fight to be for a UFC title. But because the promotion typically does not book fighters in a championship bout when it's the final fight on a contract -- presumably for fear the fighter might win the belt and go off to another fight company -- Aldo says he believes he will have to extend his UFC contract or sign a new deal before landing a title shot.

"They'll never let me fight for the title if I don't have any fights left in my contract," Aldo said.

The Brazilian is open to signing a new contract as long as he gets what he's looking for: the freedom to box professionally.

"Everything is about the negotiation. We are open to discuss," Aldo said. "We can always have a conversation and try to find the best possible way to do it. I don't see a problem in [re-signing with the UFC and being able to box]. I don't see myself fighting MMA elsewhere but the UFC."

Aldo (28-4) reigned over the UFC and World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) featherweight divisions from 2009 to 2015, successfully defending the belt nine times. He is considered by many to be the greatest at that weight class. He lost the belt to Conor McGregor at UFC 194 when he was knocked out in only 13 seconds. He competed for the belt again twice in 2017 but lost both times to current champion Max Holloway. Aldo has bounced back with knockout victories over Jeremy Stephens and Renato Moicano.

Aldo, at 32, says he believes now is the time to start a career in a new sport. But he's not going to rush in at the first offer.

"[I've had] boxing offers," he said. "I had some talks back in the day, but the UFC wouldn't let me do it. My contract is almost over, so we can open negotiations again. But what I need is things on paper. I need them to keep it real. I can't swing and miss. I want everything done the right way. I want to sit with Dede and study the best offers."