Entering the nearly hollow UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada, Jose Aldo, the former king of the featherweight division, was set to face Marlon Vera, a durable and dangerous contender within the talent-rich bantamweight division. Unbeknownst to anyone inside the arena or watching from home was Aldo’s battle against his own body—as a staph infection on his chest became apparent only twenty-four hours before game time.
When Aldo arrived in Las Vegas to begin his mandatory quarantine at the UFC’s host hotel, he didn’t feel one-hundred percent healthy; however, he assumed, especially following a negative Covid-19 test, it was a strong bout of jet lag after traveling all the way from Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. On the day of weigh-ins, Aldo’s coach, Andre Pederneiras, noticed a mark on his star pupil’s chest that appeared infected. It was staph.
With no antibiotics and pulling out of his co-main event slot not being an option, Aldo continued his weight cut. Prior to Aldo exposing himself on the scale, Pederneiras borrowed some concealer from Taila Santos, a fellow countrywomen who was slated to compete on UFC Vegas 17’s prelims. The plan was a success, though a more creative strategy would be required for the next day.
As soon as Aldo removed his shirt at the prep point, his chest stood out like a sore thumb, but not because of his ever-expanding staph infection. To hide the staph, Aldo’s team adhered a temporary tattoo featuring the logo of the Brazilian Navy, which was where he spent much of his recent training camp.
A couple rounds into the Brazilian’s one-sided command of Vera, the Navy’s logo faded into the Bermuda Triangle of sweat and blood. Of course, jokes and memes surfaced throughout cyberspace about the disappearing ink, but the focus quickly shifted to praising Aldo on his flawless performance and snapping a two-fight skid as a bantamweight, thereby leaving the infected area unnoticed.
During the post-fight interview, Aldo directed his attention toward T.J. Dillashaw, the former UFC Bantamweight Champion who is set to return in the coming months proceeding a two-year suspension for doping. Fans agree: this is an incredible matchup of crafty veterans who use short-term solutions in hopes of long-term benefits.