Jose Aldo (right) is now 12-0 under the Zuffa banner. | Photo: Gleidson Venga/Sherdog.com
The mixed martial arts community has come to expect the extraordinary from Ultimate Fighting Championship featherweight titleholder Jose Aldo. Sometimes, great expectations go unmet.
Aldo was effective but unspectacular in retaining his 145-pound crown with a fourth-round technical knockout against Chan Sung Jung in the UFC 163 main event on Saturday at the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The South Korean challenger succumbed to the blows -- and an unsightly shoulder injury -- 2:00 into round four.
The 26-year-old Aldo outlanded Jung by a modest 43-42 margin in total strikes and 32-17 in significant strikes, according to FightMetric figures. What was most puzzling about the champion’s outing was the fact that his famed leg kicks were almost non-existent -- a development which can be attributed to a foot injury that was revealed in the bout’s aftermath. Despite the somewhat tepid performance, Aldo remains firmly entrenched as one of the sport’s pound-for-pound superstars. The Nova Uniao export has won 16 fights in succession dating back to his November 2005 defeat to Luciano Azevedo, maintaining his spot as the world’s top featherweight for nearly four full years.
Though he is the preeminent force within the division, Aldo still has some worthy challengers with which to deal, Ricardo Lamas chief among them. “The Bully” has rattled off four consecutive victories since arriving in the UFC. Lamas, 31, last appeared at UFC on Fox 6 in January, when he carved up Erik Koch with elbows at the United Center in Chicago.
Jung’s immediate future seems a bit more clouded. The loss snapped his three-fight winning streak and, more importantly, could put him on the shelf for an extended period of time, depending on the severity of the injury. Still, even in defeat, the popular South Korean proved he could hold his own with one of MMA’s elite fighters. Provided Jung can get back in the cage relatively soon, a matchup with Dennis Siver would almost certainly result in fireworks on the feet. Siver is licking wounds of his own after his loss to Cub Swanson by third-round technical knockout at UFC 162 in July.
In the wake of UFC 163 “Aldo vs. Korean Zombie,” here are five other matchups that ought to be made:
Phil Davis vs. Glover Teixeira-Ryan Bader winner: Davis was the beneficiary of a controversial decision against former champion Lyoto Machida in the co-main event. “Mr. Wonderful” relied on aggression and a high output of punches and kicks, while his Brazilian opponent answered with effective counters and silenced Davis’ takedown game after being grounded late in the first and second rounds. The decision victory thrusts Davis into the discussion for No. 1 contender at 205 pounds, as he now owns wins over three men currently ranked in the top 10: Machida, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Alexander Gustafsson. Teixeira will confront Bader at UFC Fight Night 28 on Sept. 4.
Lyoto Machida vs. Jon Jones-Alexander Gustafsson loser: Considering the nature of the decision against Davis, Machida does not figure to fall far in the pecking order at 205 pounds. Still, at 35 and carrying a mediocre 3-4 mark in his last seven bouts, one has to wonder how much longer he can remain at his current level. Jones will defend the light heavyweight championship against Gustafsson at UFC 165 on Sept. 21 in Toronto.
Ian McCall vs. John Lineker: McCall shed the proverbial monkey and registered his first win inside the Octagon with a unanimous verdict over Iliarde Santos. The 29-year-old Team Oyama representative had not tasted victory in almost two years, having compiled a 0-2-1 record in battles with Joseph Benavidez and current flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson (twice). Lineker lost some of his equity by missing weight, but the promising Brazilian managed to stop Jose Maria Tome with punches 63 seconds into the second round.
Amanda Nunes vs. Germaine de Randamie: The 25-year-old Nunes was brilliant in dispatching German import Sheila Graff with a series of savage elbows from inside guard. The encounter lasted a little more than two minutes, as Nunes put her well-rounded skills on display and overwhelmed Graff with offense. De Randamie made her promotional debut at UFC on Fox 8 on July 27 in Seattle, as the American Kickboxing Academy-trained muay Thai stylist earned a split decision over Julie Kedzie.
Thales Leites vs. Ed Herman: In his first UFC appearance in four years, Leites painted the Octagon red with Tom Watson’s blood. The seasoned Brazilian utilized takedowns, ground-and-pound, grueling clinches and a relentless stream of submission attempts to wear down Watson. Leites even did some damage standing, as he opened a gash near the former British Association of Mixed Martial Arts champion’s right eye with a left hook in the third round. Herman captured a split verdict over Trevor Smith at UFC on Fox 8.