Top 10 UFC Fighters Of The Decade: #7: José Aldo
By Ross Markey
When it comes to José Aldo, many in the mixed-martial-arts community tend to have a rather short, and unforgiving memory surrounding the Manaus native. A man who will unfortunately be forever remembered for his thirteen second loss to Conor McGregor at UFC 194, is so much more than just that.
The UFC’s premier featherweight pack leader, Aldo, is one of the most dangerous strikers in the sport’s history. A fantastic Muay Thai practitioner who has developed his boxing skills significantly over previous years, the Brazilian fan-favorite is a complete package. Sure, he’s gone through a patch of rough form recently, but from 2011 to 2015, José Aldo was arguably the most dominant fighter on planet earth.
The 33-year-old is the most successful featherweight champion in the promotion’s history, with an incredible seven separate title defenses. Brazilian icon, José Aldo takes the #7 rank in this Top 10 list.
In terms of résumés at featherweight, Aldo has one of the most impressive. During his reign as division king, Aldo managed wins over Frankie Edgar (x2), Chad Mendes (x2), Mark Hominick, Kenny Florian, Ricardo Lamas, and Chan Sung Jung.
When written off after defeats to Max Holloway, Aldo rebounded to take out then surging challengers, Jeremy Stephens, and Renato Moicano both by knockout.
Even against a quality striker like Marlon Moraes on his bantamweight debut at UFC 245, Aldo looked spectacular. Many, myself included questioned how Aldo would perform at 135-pounds, given his arduous journey to the 145-pound limit in recent years. We were all proven wrong. In the three round affair, in which one could argue toward a decision nod in favour of Aldo, he looked incredibly aggressive and poised. Almost like Aldo of years gone by.
To get an estimate of the boxing improvements Aldo has made recently, we should study his rematch against Frankie Edgar at UFC 200. Aldo would make his first appearance since his devastating defeat to McGregor, as he met former lightweight best, Edgar, with interim gold up for grabs.
Although both Aldo and Edgar landed the exact same number of total strikes that night in Las Vegas, it was the Brazilian who was the more composed and accurate. Demonstrating his almost unmatched takedown defence, Aldo successfully prevented eleven takedowns.
Another standout win in Aldo’s rise to featherweight stardom, was his initial meeting with long-time contender, Chad ‘Money’ Mendes. In his native Brazil, Aldo welcomed Mendes to enemy territory, as his consensus, toughest test to date. On the break from a clinch exchange with the first round buzzer moments from sounding, Aldo launched a flying knee, knocking the wrestler out cold. A memorable scene from the event was Aldo bolting through the Octagon door and making his way into the crowd before he was lofted high overhead. The King of Rio had taken his throne.
In my estimation, José Aldo is criminally underrated in some circles, due to the fact he dropped the featherweight title to Conor McGregor, and then, Max Holloway — two almost generational talents. Outside of those defeats, Aldo is arguably the greatest featherweight to ever compete under the promotion’s banner, barely second behind Max Holloway.
A phenomenal talent in his own right, Aldo is as polished a stand-up fighter you’re likely to find, with an equally forgotten history of utilizing his striking skills to finish a fight. Not to mention, Aldo is easily the most successful featherweight champion of all time, and for that reason, he takes the #7 rank on my Top 10 list.