Leading into the fight the questions were aplenty for both combatants: Were Aldo’s performances against Mark Hominick and Kenny Florian a sign that he was hitting a decline, or needed to move up in weight? How would he deal with a fighter that brought in the best pure wrestling credentials of any opponent he had faced? Would Urijah Faber‘s scrap with Jose provide any useful information to the challenger? How would Gray Maynard‘s training with Aldo effect the featherweight kingpin? The answers we now know are no, easily, none at all, and immensely. The last (training with Maynard) made all the difference in the world.
Jose was technically taken down once against fence, but he blocked the three others that Chad shot (one single, and two double legs). You can’t help but think that the training Aldo conducted with Maynard gave Aldo all the confidence he needed to fight with reckless abandon again. Not only is Gray one of the best wrestlers in the UFC, but he is also one of the hardest workers in MMA. He is notorious for the amount of time he spends in the gym (as he has been accused of “overtraining” on more than one occasion). The stellar wrestling background, along with his work ethic, made Gray the perfect partner to help a fighter who looked almost disinterested in the lead up to his last two matches. Aldo was able to peel Mendes off his back late in the first round, and finished the fight in style with a spin-around knee that put “Money” on dream street with only a few seconds to go.
After the fight was over Chad mentioned that his plan was to keep the pressure on Jose the entire fight. He was not able to do that, as he fell into the trap of letting Aldo dictate the pace of the match (the same thing Urijah and Mike Brown did). His game plan was to stay in the champ’s face all fight, and be relentless with takedowns. This of course is much easier said than done, and he just doesn’t appear to have the skills necessary to execute that type of fight yet with a guy who should be considered the #3 PFP fighter in the world. It is a definite that he will continue to improve, as he is a part of maybe the best camp for the lighter weight fighters in MMA, and he has the background of a former national runner-up in Division 1 college wrestling. Developing his foot work, and perfecting his mix of takedowns with striking are what he needs to work on now to get to that next level.
Jose “Scarface” Aldo has now defeated grapplers (Gamburyan, Nogueira), wrestlers (Faber, Mendes), and strikers (Hominick, Florian). A recipe for the fighter to beat him at 145lbs doesn’t seem to exist right now. It appears the winner of Hatsu Hioki-Bart Palaszewski at UFC 144 will be next on Aldo’s docket. As of this moment, either man would be a decided underdog against Jose. Hopefully, we see a quality contender develop in the near future.