UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo extended his streak of title defenses to six with a one-sided decision win over Ricardo Lamas in the co-main event of last Saturday’s UFC 169 from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
The win should have been part of a celebration that saw both Aldo and Nova Uniao training partner Renan Barao retain their UFC gold, but it was marred by the nature of Aldo’s recent wins. Once though to be the most destructive finisher in all of MMA during his run in the WEC, “Junior” has only notched two finishes since coming over to the UFC.
And one of them came by default at UFC 163 last August, when Chan Sung Jung separated his right shoulder and was rendered unable to continue.
With former pound-for-pound kings Anderson Silva and Georges St. Pierre currently on the shelf and uncertain to return to the cage, the UFC is looking for a new champion that it can herald as its No. 1 pound-for-pound king, and Aldo was certainly at the top of a short list of candidates.
However, his tentative nature has UFC president Dana White very leery to call Aldo the best P4P in the world, telling ESPN after his fight:
“The thing about Jose Aldo that drives me crazy is the kid has all the talent in the world. He’s explosive, fast. He can do anything but he just lays back and doesn’t let anything go. When you talk about being the pound-for-pound best in the world, you can’t go five rounds with guys that it looks like you can defeat them in the second round. That’s what Aldo has a habit of doing.”
Indeed Aldo appeared to have No. 2-ranked Lamas totally outclassed, peppering him with painful leg kicks and seemingly avoiding takedowns at will. But he let the fight drag onto the championship rounds, and Lamas finally took the fight to the mat to score some points with ground and pound. While the bout was already locked up for Aldo, fans simply are not going to pay their hard-earned money to watch a champion coast to victory.
We’ve seen it happen with former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson’s low pay-per-view numbers, and it’s a big reason why the No. 1-ranked “Smooth” won’t be getting another title shot anytime soon.
Above all else, White and the UFC want competitors who come out looking for a finish each and every trip to the Octagon. White has consistently praised UFC bantamweight champion Renan Barao for doing just that, even going as far as to say that Barao would be the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in MMA if he finished Urijah Faber.
Controversial or not, he did just that at UFC 169, and with three straight finishes over some of the best 135-pound fighters in the world, Barao will deserve every bit of the lofty ranking he should receive. Despite it being clear that he and Aldo have very similar fighting styles, it seems like Barao wants to end fights more than Aldo does at this point in their respective careers.
In the meantime, it’s clear that Aldo is going to have to start finishing his opponents if he wants to live up to the immeasurable billing he’s earned from his past exploits. He has all the talent in the world, but when you’ve been champion for as long as he has, it probably gets easier and easier to ride your talent to a clear-cut decision win.
However, that won’t work if Aldo does get booked in the fight everyone wants for him, a lightweight title bout against current UFC 155-pound champ Anthony “Showtime” Pettis. It’s a long-awaited and oft-discussed bout that should test Aldo’s complete game if Pettis can return to full health from a torn PCL.
Will facing an elite combatant like Pettis make Aldo return to his once-destructive style?
Photo: Joe Camporeale for USA TODAY Sports