Daniel Cormier: There’s no respect for ‘smaller dudes’ Conor McGregor, Max Holloway if it weren’t for Jose Aldo

Daniel Cormier credits Jose Aldo for giving the lighter weight divisions legitimacy.

Aldo (31-8 MMA, 13-7 UFC) returns vs. Jonathan Martinez (19-4 MMA, 10-3 UFC) in Saturday’s UFC 301 (Pay-per-view/ESPN/ESPN+) co-main event at Farmasi Arena in Rio de Janeiro.

Aldo, a former WEC and UFC featherweight champion, had a dominant reign in the octagon with seven title defenses before eventually opting to drop down to bantamweight. Cormier praised Aldo for drawing people in with his performances.

“I didn’t respect small guys to that degree before Aldo,” Cormier said on his ESPN show “Good Guy/Bad Guy” with Chael Sonnen. “So there is no Max (Holloway), Conor (McGregor), or any respect for the smaller dudes if Aldo didn’t lead the way with his performances. The moment that I truly recognized his star was when he fought Chad Mendes. When Chad’s behind him, he’s got a lock on the waist, Jose turns, gives him a knee, puts Chad down, jumps over the octagon, rushes to the crowd in Rio and he’s holding the flag.

“They’re picking him up, jumping. It was a mob scene. I thought to myself, ‘Wow, if I can have one moment, just one moment to feel what this guy is feeling right now, my entire athletics career would be complete.’ One moment to feel what he felt, after watching his joy, his excitement, and the way he inspired a country, the way he inspired his city. I wanted it one time, bro. That’s what Jose Aldo was.”

Aldo was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame after retiring in fall of 2022. However, it didn’t take long for “The King of Rio” to get the itch to compete again as he is set to complete the final fight on his UFC contract vs. Martinez.

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 301.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie