The only undisputed featherweight champion in UFC history draws the most dangerous assignment of his career this coming weekend in Las Vegas. Jose Aldo will square off against Irish superstar Conor McGregor in a massive unification title clash that will headline UFC 194.
It’s easily the biggest 145-pound tilt in the promotion’s history. The hype for this contest was taken to unprecedented heights after an enthralling world media tour. While the fight didn’t happen as originally scheduled at UFC 189, the anticipation remains sky high to see the two heated rivals finally resolve their differences inside the Octagon.
Aldo is an immensely skilled Nova Uniao product who hasn’t experienced defeat since 2005. While he doesn’t have the brash personality that McGregor brings to the table, he does possess similarly excellent striking skills. Aldo was promoted to UFC champion after a successful WEC title defense against Manny Gamburyan.
The dangerous Brazilian has made seven successful title defenses and is currently riding an impressive 18-fight win streak. “Scarface” is noted for his crippling leg kicks and Muay Thai skills.
The heat that Aldo has developed with McGregor during a media blitz that included stops in Brazil and Ireland makes this by far the most eagerly anticipated and lucrative fight that he’s ever been involved in. He may not have been a major PPV draw before, but all of that will change this weekend, thanks in large part to “The Notorious.” As we gear up for the UFC’s event of the year, let’s take a look back at Aldo’s five career-defining MMA efforts.
5. Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar (UFC 156)
Aldo faced a tough test in his fourth title defense against the former lightweight kingpin Edgar at UFC 156. Edgar received a title shot in his first 145-pound appearance after losing his belt to Benson Henderson and dropping a subsequent rematch. The Feb. 2, 2013 clash in Las Vegas proved to be an excellent 25-minute display between two elite competitors. Aldo showcased his speed and striking skills in securing a unanimous decision triumph.
Aldo would do the most significant damage during the course of the contest, including an excellent front kick to the face in the third round. He would punctuate the victory by landing a Superman punch off the cage as the bout came to a close. It was a traditionally game performance from Edgar, who took the champion’s best shots and had some solid moments of his own. Both men were rewarded with Fight of the Night bonuses.
4. Jose Aldo vs. Urijah Faber (WEC 48)
Aldo turned back Faber’s attempt to reclaim the featherweight crown at WEC 48. It marked the lone pay-per-view event in the promotion’s history. Aldo would dominate the April 24, 2010 clash in Sacramento, California by putting on a leg-kicking clinic. Faber had both his mobility and offense badly hampered due to the damage his leg incurred from the champion’s brutal strikes.
Aldo would nearly get the finish in the fourth-round as he rained down a torrent of ground-and-pound elbows as Faber was trapped in a crucifix position. It was an impressive performance from the Brazilian who showcased his 145-pound supremacy against a determined, but outgunned former WEC titlist.
3. Jose Aldo vs. Chad Mendes (UFC 142)
Aldo produced his most electrifying Octagon finish at UFC 142 in Brazil. Mendes, who was undefeated at the time of the Jan. 14, 2012 contest, had secured a title shot after a pair of UFC triumphs. The standout wrestler had acquitted himself well before being knocked out with a devastating knee to the face in the dying seconds of the opening frame. The end would come at the 4:59 mark.
The lasting image from that successful title defense was the sight of Aldo bolting from the cage to join a wildly enthusiastic crowd in Rio de Janeiero to celebrate with his overjoyed Brazilian supporters.
2. Jose Aldo vs. Cub Swanson (WEC 41)
Aldo’s dynamic striking skills were on full display in a June 7, 2009 title eliminator at WEC 41 against Cub Swanson. The fight was over in a ridiculous eight seconds as Aldo would land a devastating flying knee as the fight began. He would add a couple of follow-up punches as Swanson covered up on the canvas in obvious pain. The stunning knockout loss remains the only time in Swanson’s career that he’s been finished via strikes. It is Aldo’s most explosive career performance.
1. Jose Aldo vs. Chad Mendes II (UFC 179)
Aldo showed he could dig deep against a tough challenge in his rematch with Mendes at UFC 179. The contest in Rio de Janeiro was a ferocious 25 minutes of action that featured tremendous stand-up exchanges throughout. Both men were rocked during the intense affair. The opening stanza was one of the most memorable rounds in UFC featherweight title history.
Mendes, who had become a much more dangerous striker since their first meeting, was more than willing to stand in the pocket and trade bombs with the champion. The Oct. 25, 2014 battle was one of the most spectacular UFC fights of the year.
When all was said and done, both men had a newfound respect for each other as Aldo emerged with the unanimous decision victory. It’s easily the most exciting and taxing fight that Aldo has ever been involved in during his UFC tenure.