SPOTLIGHT: Jose Aldo
By: Bryce Featured Image Credit: MMAJunkie
As to continue our UFC 218 spotlight this week heading into the Detroit card, we begin examining the main event with Jose "Scarface" Aldo Junior.
For a long time, nearly a decade, one word would describe Jose Aldo: dominant. Until his loss to Conor McGregor in 2015, he was the UFC's sole featherweight champion, and he was fantastic. Whether he would outclass opponents for 5 rounds, or finish them, like in the Chad Mendes fight, it was thought that Aldo couldn't be beaten. His fame in Brazil grew to the point where he had a (not extremely great) biopic based on his life and upbringing. He was on top of the world and on top of the division for so long that the public saw him as unbeatable.
One thing that did defeat Aldo, however, were injuries. There has been at least 5 occasions in the UFC alone that injury caused the former featherweight king to withdraw from a fight, from ribs that forced him out of 189 to shoulder and spinal injuries that forced him out of 173. Whether it comes from hard sparring at the world-renowned Nova Uniao gym or a fragile body, Aldo could not seem to stay healthier, which meant he couldn't fight as much. But when he did fight, it was something to see. One of his most devastating weapons became his leg kicks. From a soccer background, he already had immense kicking power, and he would unleash it on opponents. If he began landing his leg kicks, it would quickly impair his opponent's mobility, helping to further open up the wide array of strikes Aldo has at his disposal. As the video above shows, it is difficult to stop his kicks as well, as he has such a complex way of working them into the fight. If he decided to kick your legs, you better tell your cornerman to prep an ice bath and crutches afterwards.
Even with his immense stand-up capabilities, he has been defeated three times, twice of which have come by KO. His first defeat came back in 2005 by rear-naked choke. He then went on a decade-long win streak, amassing 18 straight wins in that time. Then came Conor McGregor, and every MMA hardcore and casual knows how that ended up: the 13 seconds that were a year in the making. Then, to bounce back, Aldo won the interim title against Frankie Edgar, which was later upgraded to the actual belt after Conor was stripped. And then came along Max Holloway. Holloway had just come off of an interim belt victory against Anthony Pettis. He was young, hungry, and his last loss, too, came at the hands of the aforementioned Irishman. In that fight, Aldo was able to hurt Holloway early, but it did not matter, because in the second, Max gained steam and began to pummel the former 145 kingpin. He won by a third round TKO. Aldo only threw one leg kick. He later cited an injury, hindering his ability to land his fight-changing leg kicks. He was devastated.
It is not often you get to avenge your loss in your next fight, but Aldo was given that chance when Frankie Edgar came down with an injury, so here we are. He has been telling the media that this will be his best performance to date and that he will leave with the belt, dead or alive. He believes it is important to win this for his legacy, and that couldn't be any more true. When you're looking at the best, the GSPs, the Silvas, they don't lose often. The greatest, however, are able to avenge those losses and show that they grew from them (*cough* *cough* Read our GSP GOAT article HERE *cough* *cough*). That is the company Aldo has the chance to join, the chance to be in consideration as the best MMA fighter ever.
So, what does he have to do? He already lost to him, so what needs to change this time around. One thing that is clear is that he needs to use leg kicks. He needs to limit the mobility of Max Holloway to begin to fight how he is used to. Along with that, he needs to remain patient. He got in trouble when they both started throwing later in the fight, and he fought best in the first when he remained calm and composed. He does those things, along with leaving the past fight in the past, you could see one of the best ever reclaim his belt.