UFC Downtime: Jose Aldo shines in local Rio communities

It’s hard going for UFC fans trying to endure some of the long stretches between events. The fighters themselves use the downtime to pursue other interests in their lives.

Ahead of his UFC 212 main event against Max Holloway, take a look at what Jose Aldo gets up to when he finds himself outside of the gym.

Rio de Janeiro is one of the world’s major cities. It is a world-renowned tourist destination famed for its food, dance and beaches, and as the home of many all-time sporting greats.

It is also a city with significant poverty, however, and one neighbourhood in the northern region is a reminder of that reality. Maguinhos is a neighbourhood that is home to Usina de Campeoes, a social project that aims to engage children in the community that may otherwise fall by the wayside. Among their supporters are Thales Leites, Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza, and UFC Featherweight champion Jose Aldo Jr.

Usina de Campeoes is one of many MMA based social projects that Aldo has been involved with. He opened a Escola de Luta for low-income children in 2015 and has and supported many others, following in the footsteps of other Brazilian fighters like the legendary Nogueira brothers in getting involved with the significant low-income populations of urban communities in Brazil.

For Aldo, the investment in the project couldn’t be clearer – he is himself grew up in an impoverished part of Brazil, and directly benefited from the work that has been done by these kinds of organisations.

Earlier in the year, Aldo went to visit ‘Morro dos Campeoes’, where he spent some time training and helping run classes when he first moved to Rio. For Aldo, who described the visit as “Like stepping back in time,” the visit was a reminder that no one can accomplish anything alone.

Though it would seem that UFC champion is the absolute best outcome one could hope for from a project like this, Aldo has high hopes that these children will actually be better than those who came before them – Aldo himself included. “The intent of this project is that the students might be much more than what we are, so we try to give the best example for them,” Aldo said.

Many of the organisations mentioned in this article will be the beneficiaries of a UFC-led food drive during the run-up to UFC 212. As a part of this process, fans can donate 1kg of non-perishable food items in exchange for a ticket to the Rio weigh-ins. A local supermarket chain will then match the donations, which will then be distributed to the charities in Rio.