Jose Aldo: 5 Defining Moments

By Brian Knapp Oct 24, 2016

Jose Aldo has earned the right to rub shoulders with the all-time greats.

Otherworldly skills -- he marries blinding speed to concussive power and flawless technique -- allowed the Brazilian to take World Extreme Cagefighting by storm, as he became the most dominant champion in the promotion’s history. Aldo arrived in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (online betting) as part of the WEC merger in 2011 and did not skip a beat. He made seven consecutive title defenses at 145 pounds, a reign that included victories over Kenny Florian, Mark Hominick, Chan Sung Jung, Ricardo Lamas and Frankie Edgar. Aldo was in the midst of an 18-fight winning streak that spanned nine years when he ran into a left hand from a certain Irishman in December. The Nova Uniao ace cashed three “Knockout of the Night” bonus checks in the WEC and has pocketed three “Fight of the Night” awards in the UFC. At just 30 years of age, Aldo appears to have plenty of time to add to an already long list of accomplishments, provided he puts retirement talk on hold.

In a career brimming with defining moments, here are five that stand out:

1. Hero’s Welcome

Aldo was masterful in the UFC 142 main event on Jan. 14, 2012, as he kept his stranglehold on the featherweight title with a sensational knockout of the previously unbeaten Chad Mendes at the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Mendes bowed out 4:59 into round one. Afterward, a triumphant Aldo stormed out of the cage and into the middle of a boisterous, pro-Brazilian crowd, where he was carried around on the shoulders of his countrymen in an emotional scene that was immediately woven into the sport’s historical fabric. From the start, it did not go well for Mendes. Aldo attacked with savage kicks to the legs and stymied every one of his takedown attempts. With the decorated amateur wrestler unable to put the fight in a more advantageous position, it was only a matter of time before Aldo zeroed in. The finish was breathtaking. The two men engaged in an extended clinch against the cage, with Mendes attached to Aldo’s back. The Brazilian champion separated Mendes’ hands, broke free and, in one motion, turned and met the challenger with a knee to the head that was equal parts exquisite and devastating. The Team Alpha Male standout went stiff and hit the canvas. Aldo followed, blasted him with a right hand and put an exclamation point on an unforgettable victory.

2. Knee Deep

Not yet a champion, Aldo was still gathering strength when he locked horns with Cub Swanson at WEC 41 on June 7, 2009 in Sacramento, California. Swanson was 13-2 and had recovered from a shocking defeat to Jens Pulver by registering back-to-back victories over Hiroyuki Takaya and Donny Walker. His Brazilian counterpart had begun his ascent to the top of the featherweight division, touching off his run in the WEC with consecutive finishes against Chris Mickle, Rolando Perez, Jonathan Brookins and Alexandre Franca Nogueira. Most expected Aldo to be too much for Swanson, but few foresaw the dramatic fashion in which the situation would unravel. The Jackson-Wink MMA-trained Swanson never got a chance to get started. By the time he realized the fight was under way, he was turtled on the canvas, blood pouring from a horrific gash on his left eyebrow. Aldo had delivered a flying knee to his face. It was over in just eight seconds and remains perhaps the most spectacular performance of Aldo’s great career.

3. Unceremoniously Deposed

It was a box-office blockbuster, and anticipation was high ahead of Aldo’s long-awaited showdown with Conor McGregor in the UFC 194 main event. Champion and challenger had engaged in a heated war of words for months, bringing their rivalry to a boil and supplying the media with a seemingly daily stream of sound bites. Aldo had not lost in more than a decade, but the Irishman claimed he would crumble as soon as he was hit clean and vowed to take out the Nova Uniao star inside one round. McGregor’s prediction was as accurate as his punch. Aldo came out of his corner looking anxious and unsettled. He leaned in too far and overextended on a right hand; and McGregor was waiting for him. He saw it coming and delivered a short left hook that dropped Aldo at his feet. The longtime champion was done, but McGregor delivered two hammerfists for good measure that left Aldo with a gash across the bridge of his nose. Never before had a UFC championship changed hands so quickly, and just like that, Aldo’s reign atop the featherweight division was over at 1,848 days.

4. Reaching the Summit

All Aldo lacked was championship gold when he took on Mike Thomas Brown at WEC 44 on Nov. 18, 2009 in Las Vegas. A rugged American Top Team veteran and the reigning World Extreme Cagefighting featherweight titleholder, Brown carried a 10-fight winning streak into their scheduled five-round tilt. Soon after the two men engaged, it became clear Aldo was on another level. He controlled distance and utilized stinging leg kicks and surgical punches to keep Brown guessing from the start. The Nova Uniao standout executed with efficient ease, and though Brown attempted a few early takedowns, Aldo’s sprawl kept him at bay. When the two featherweights drew close, Aldo slammed Brown’s legs with vicious kicks and ripped his midsection with crushing knees. Near the end of the first round, a knee to the gut left Brown breathless, as he dropped to his knees and clinched the challenger’s legs until the horn sounded. He escaped, but he remained in harm’s way, and Aldo’s firepower fried the defending champion early in round two. There, the Brazilian stuffed a takedown attempt and scrambled into a dominant position. His hopes fading, Brown tried to return to his feet, but the relentless Aldo seized his back, flattened him and unloaded punches to the sides of Brown’s head. Dozens of blows, some of them clean, some of them blocked, were unleashed, prompting a stoppage from referee Steve Mazzagatti 80 seconds into the second round. Aldo was at long last a champion.

5. Cemented Greatness

Urijah Faber embodied what the WEC was all about. That mattered little to Aldo. Champion and former champion collided at WEC 48 on April 24, 2010, shouldering the marquee for the promotion’s one and only pay-per-view event. It was a complete blowout. By FightMetric count, Aldo outpaced Faber 138-27 in total strikes landed, generated two knockdowns and successfully defended each of the Team Alpha Male patriarch’s nine takedown attempts. The Brazilian spent rounds two, three and four chewing up Faber’s lead leg with kicks. Grotesque swelling and bruising resulted and left “The California Kid” barely able to stand. Aldo connected with 27 leg kicks in the bout, dissecting his challenger with the speed, skill and precision that had become his hallmarks. With no base on which to stand, Faber was essentially powerless. He landed just one of the 15 significant strikes he threw over the final two rounds. Greatness was indeed at hand with Aldo.


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