Jose Aldo has recorded 18 consecutive victories. | Gleidson Venga/Sherdog.com
If a tree falls in the forest, does anybody hear it? That age-old question will almost certainly apply to UFC 179, as one of the best fights of the entire year may not have been seen by much of a North American audience.
Featherweight champion Jose Aldo is not nearly at Anderson Silva’s level in Brazil, but he is still a pretty big deal. Here in the United States, or even in Canada? Not so much. Thus, the pay-per-view numbers from the event on Saturday in Rio de Janeiro may hardly register a blip on the mixed martial arts landscape, and that is unfortunate. Does it not seem like quite often the “forgotten” shows end up having at least one killer fight?
Aldo won his rematch with Chad Mendes by scores of 49-46 across the board. Watching the fight in real-time, it was not inconceivable to have it two rounds apiece heading into the fifth and final frame. Sure, Aldo may have done more overall damage, but this is not Pride Fighting Championships. Bouts are not scored on the whole -- we use a round system -- and this one was close after 20 minutes. The fight was not without a little controversy, either. At the end of the first round, Aldo landed two thunderous blows after the horn. At the post-fight press conference, Aldo claimed through an interpreter that he was in the moment and felt the situation coming to the same conclusion as the first time the two featherweights fought in January 2012.
“When it was about to end right there, I thought I had already won the fight,” he said. “So I landed two punches and the ref got in front of me and I thought I had won, but the round was over. I heard the crowd. Everyone was screaming, and I thought I was going to be able to run into the crowd again, but they put me back in, and we had to restart the fight.”
Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White seemed to support the notion, admitting it was rather loud in the building. Never shy about speaking his opinion regarding the officiating following a fight card, White was not out to criticize or question referee Marc Goddard. In fact, by and large, Goddard went out of his way to not interject himself into the outcome, repeatedly telling the fighters to keep going whenever there was a complaint about small infractions.
Following a back-and-forth fifth round, Aldo secured the win; it was his seventh title defense, 18th straight victory and the 25th triumph of this career. Perhaps saving his best shot of the night for after the fight, Aldo took aim at Irishman Conor McGregor while being interviewed inside the Octagon: “The court is complete. I’m the king, Chad is the prince and we have a joker.”
In something of an unprecedented scene, Mendes also called out McGregor in his post-fight interview. Can anyone recall two main-event participants challenging the same guy after a fight? It was indeed strange theater.
Phil Davis is not Rory MacDonald, but they do have at least one thing in common: Their wins often come off as meaningless. Sure, both have piled up victories and are highly ranked in their respective weight classes, but few people are clamoring to see them fight for a title.
Less than 15 seconds into his UFC 179 co-main event with Glover Teixeira, Davis shot for his first takedown. It should have been an early warning sign for what was to come. There is nothing wrong with a fighter using his or her wrestling, but Davis comes off as boring and one-dimensional when he uses like he did against Teixeira. Most fans want to see a well-rounded mixture of disciplines, and that was not what Davis showed. He backpedaled and ran -- sophisticated observers attempt to cover this up by referring to it as “circling away” -- for extended periods of time in the first and second rounds. Then, the Pennsylvania native used a grinding grappling game to control the action.
“Glover was way bigger than I thought he was,” Davis said. “He has a power punch and waited to try to land some big shots, and he did land some shots. I pretended it didn’t hurt, but it did.”
To his credit, Davis entered the cage as the underdog and beat another Brazilian fighter in Brazil. However, to think he would offer anything for champion Jon Jones or Daniel Cormier at this point seems delusional. Yet, it is not nearly as crazy as Davis calling out Anderson Silva -- yes, the same Silva who made a career out of making fighters far superior to “Mr. Wonderful” look absolutely silly -- in his post-fight interview.
With the home team dropping a number of bouts to foreign fighters, Fabio Maldonado was expected to stem the tide as he entered the cage. His plans for victory almost never came to fruition, though, as Maldonado did not look good in the opening round against Dutch fighter Hans Stringer. However, in true it’s-not-over-until-it’s-over spirit, Maldonado rallied back to earn a second-round technical knockout. What came next is probably what fans will remember even more as time passes.
Maldonado climbed to the top of the cage and invited Silva to meet him atop the Octagon wall. Much to the delight of the partisan crowd, “The Spider” joined him for what quickly became an emotional embrace. It was a public burying of the hatchet, as the two reportedly had been at odds since Maldonado left Team Nogueira in 2013.
“[When] he came up, he hugged me,” Maldonado said. “I told him, ‘Hey man, I’m sorry. I’m sorry I didn’t speak to you personally and I left it to the press.’ I regretted some things I had said to him. I told him, ‘I’m sorry.’”
Silva did not need to hear anything more.
“Stop it. It’s all good,” Maldonado said the former middleweight champion told him. “So I gave him a kiss on the forehead.”
Silva was not the only high-profile former champion not competing at UFC 179 to find his name being thrown around in the post-fight discussions. Georges St. Pierre is not even on the active roster, but that has not stopped people from asking about him ever since the popular Canadian vacated the welterweight title in December. People have wondered when he might return, and we seem to be getting close to an answer.
Even though he has received clearance from doctors to return to the gym, now that they are satisfied he has properly healed from another ACL injury, St. Pierre has remained rather quiet on the subject.
“I think he’ll come back, but he’s taking his time,” White said. “We haven’t talked about a fight. We have nothing even planned. [We are] not even thinking about a fight with Georges St. Pierre but just waiting for him to get back into shape.”
However, they did meet face to face last week, which should be seen as an encouraging sign.
“We literally sat down with GSP and just had lunch with him,” White said. “We sat down and talked, and he just got cleared last Friday or the Friday before. He’s ready to start training 100 percent. He’s going to take some time before he comes back.”
Chute Boxe’s Lucas Martins is a featherweight fans normally want to watch. He can be exciting, hard-hitting and full of action. However, Darren Elkins seemed to mesmerize the young Brazilian, as he offered little offense over their three-round bout on the UFC 179 main card. Amazingly, Elkins was not offering a ton of offense in return to confuse his foe; he simply stood in front of him and was willing to absorb punishment. Several takedowns and grinding clinches allowed Elkins to control the fight and earned him the split decision win. Judge Vinicius Lins inexplicably scored it 30-27 for Martins and may want to look into another line of work; judges Richard Bertrand and Eric Colon restored sanity and scored it 30-27 for Elkins ... Scott Jorgensen missed weight, forfeited 20 percent of his purse and then took a brutal body kick from Wilson Reis before tapping to an arm-triangle choke. “By the time I realized I could breathe again, he had the arm-triangle,” Jorgensen said ... Neil Magny pounded out William Macario in the third-round on the undercard and earned his fifth win of 2014, tying Roger Huerta’s modern UFC record for wins in a calendar year ... The best fight on the preliminary portion of the card was a featherweight contest between Team Alpha Male’s Andre Fili and Felipe Arantes. All three rounds were close and full of punches, kicks, takedowns and submission attempts, but Fili did enough to earn a 29-28 unanimous decision.
UFC 179 “Aldo vs. Mendes 2” drew a reported attendance of 11,415 to Maracanazinho Gymnasium.