Jose Aldo held on to his title Saturday at UFC 179. | Photo: Gleidson Venga/Sherdog.com
Chad Mendes brought out the best in Jose Aldo.
Aldo leaned on accurate, high-velocity punches to retain the Ultimate Fighting Championship featherweight crown with a unanimous decision in the UFC 179 “Aldo vs. Mendes 2” headliner on Saturday at Maracanazinho Gymnasium in Rio de Janeiro. All three judges scored it 49-46 for Aldo (25-1, 7-0 UFC), who has rattled off 18 consecutive victories.
Mendes (16-2, 7-2 UFC) made him work for it. The Team Alpha Male representative pushed a brutal pace, swarming Aldo with power punches from the start. Mendes sat down the Brazilian juggernaut with a clean left hook in the first round, only to later absorb some heavy return fire. The champion had the challenger on wobbly legs at the end of the frame, landing a scorching right hand well after the bell. Mendes recovered between rounds and continued to keep the pressure on.
Aldo was too quick, too technical and too skilled. Mendes made an impression -- he jarred the Nova Uniao ace with an uppercut and left hook in the third round -- but the finish he needed never came to fruition. Long criticized for a suspect gas tank, Aldo refused to back down despite suffering substantial damage to his left eye from an accumulation of blows. The 28-year-old champion has not lost a fight in almost nine years.
Related: UFC 179 Play-by-Play
‘Mr. Wonderful’ Overwhelms Teixeira
Repeated takedowns and steady ground-and-pound spurred Alliance MMA’s Phil Davis to a unanimous decision over the favored Glover Teixeira in the light heavyweight co-main event. Davis (13-2, 9-2 UFC) swept the scorecards with 30-27 marks from the judges, bouncing back from a lopsided loss to Anthony Johnson in April.
“Mr. Wonderful” kept Teixeira (22-4, 5-2 UFC) at a safe distance with his length and athleticism, blending together his kicks and punches. He struck for the first of multiple takedowns with roughly two minutes remaining in the first round and began blasting away with punches.
Davis slowly chipped away at the Brazilian’s resolve over the course of the next two rounds and even transitioned to full mount late in the fight.
Teixeira, 34, has suffered back-to-back defeats for the first time in his career.
Maldonado Breaks Down Stringer
Fabio Maldonado won for the fourth time in five fights, as he stopped Blackzilians export Hans Stringer with second-round ground-and-pound in a light heavyweight showcase. Maldonado (22-7, 5-4 UFC) finished it 4:06 into round two.
Stringer (22-6-3, 1-1 UFC), who entered the cage on a seven-fight unbeaten streak, enjoyed some early success. He struck for a takedown inside the first 10 seconds, dropped elbows on the Brazilian and eventually shifted to full mount. However, the notoriously durable Maldonado survived to see a second round.
There, he shrugged off a takedown from the Dutch grappler, settled in top position and unleashed a barrage of punches to the body and head that forced referee Marc Goddard to act.
The defeat was Stringer’s first since November 2010.
Elkins Outduels Chute Boxe’s Martins
Duneland Vale Tudo representative Darren Elkins leaned on relentless work in the clinch, as he took a split decision from Lucas Martins in a featured featherweight scrap. All three cageside judges turned in 30-27 scorecards, two of them siding with Elkins (18-4, 8-3 UFC).
Martins (15-2, 3-2 UFC) seemed tentative throughout the three-round battle, perhaps out of respect for the wrestling base of his opponent. Elkins routinely closed the distance and tore into the Chute Boxe standout with winging punches in close quarters.
Martins staggered him with a head kick in the second round and cracked him with repeated knees in the third, but Elkins’ chin passed the test and allowed him to operate in tight spaces.
Kings MMA’s Dariush Downs Ferreira
Grinding clinches, tactical takedowns and effective ground-and-pound carried Kings MMA representative Beneil Dariush to a unanimous decision over former Legacy Fighting Championship titleholder Carlos Diego Ferreira in a lightweight showcase. All three cageside judges scored it 30-27 for Dariush (9-1, 3-1 UFC).
Ferreira (11-1, 2-1 UFC) never established a foothold in the match. Dariush stifled his offense in close quarters, steered clear of his looping punches and capitalized on the opportunities with which he was presented. By the time their 15 minutes was up, the promising 25-year-old Rafael Cordeiro protégé had left his stamp on the fight.