Jose Aldo Jr – The Last King of the Featherweight Division

Jose Aldo Jr. a name that is known around the world by MMA fans, adored by many and equally feared by many. Especially any man looking to make a name for themselves at 145 pounds. One of the most dominant, brutal champions to ever grace MMA. If anyone is unaware of just what catastrophic punishment Aldo is capable of ask his first ever professional opponent, Mario Bigola. Haven’t heard of him? That’s because he was unfortunate to share his professional debut with Jose. His first, and last professional fight. Infect, his whole MMA career spanned a total of 16 seconds before a crushing head kick from Aldo made him look for a career change. However, even after such an impressive 16 second debut left many thinking there was something special about the young Brazilian, nobody could predict the vice like grip Aldo would be about to take the MMA world by.

Aldo, born in Manaus Brazil, originally grew up wanting to become a pro footballer, and if it wasn’t for bullies giving him a regular beatings, he may never have found where his true talents lay. Starting to train in Capoeira at the age of 12, he quickly fell in love with MMA. So much so that at the age of 17 he moved to Rio De Janeiro with nothing but the clothes on his back and a dream to become one of the most feared martial artists to ever live and boy, did he achieve just that. He quickly made a name for himself in Rio De Janeiro, as well as moving around there world fighting in the U.K and Japan, fighting across multiple organisations smaller organisations, most notably Pancrase, before going to WEC, which eventually merged with UFC, establishing himself as the most dominant featherweight of all time along the way.

Time and time again in Aldo’s long illustrious career men have stared across the cage into his eyes thinking they can be the one to bring the almighty featherweight down, and it has rarely been done. His record may not be unblemished, but his reign of terror spanning through WEC and into UFC was one of the most dominating and impassive feats in MMA history. 10 years of complete rule of the 145 pound division, crushing opponents like scrap cars in a junkyard. Razor sharp hand speed, kicks, elbows, knees, you name it, he doesn’t discriminate, as well as being a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Luta Livre (a freestyle fighting style descending from Vale Tudo), this was a man with no weakness, no area capable of being exploited by his opponents, a man who stood alone and miles above any featherweight in the world, a great white shark swimming in a sea of goldfish. Except they weren’t mere goldfish, not until they came against the great white shark Jose Aldo. Over his decade of dominance, the prime era of Aldo’s reign, his tossed the top featherweights in the world to one side like a child tossing away it’s old toys when the latest ones arrive on Christmas day morning. All of their training, past experiences, determination and self belief became as useful as a rubber dinghy in a sea of molten lava when they made the grave mistake if signing on the dotted line to fight Aldo.

Club Swanson, lasting a whole 8 seconds, stood across the cage, the last thing he probably remembered seeing was the terrifying scar across Aldo’s cheek sustained from a childhood accident before a crushing knee had him curled in a ball, as defenceless as a gazelle surrounded by a pride of hungry lions. Mike Brown, riding a dominant 10 fight win streak that saw him become, and then successfully defend the crown of featherweight champion, lasted 6 minutes, and that was probably one of the worst 6 minutes of his life. A man who had not tasted defeat for half a decade, who had knocked out, submitted and dominated the WEC featherweight division looked like a looked a beast, as did Faber, as did Gamburyan at the time, until they met Aldo. It’s not just the way he beat those guys in WEC to claim the belt, it was the way he turned those guys into sacrificial lambs, dominating and keeping the belt until WEC closed it doors. Just like when they merged with the UFC and he went onto fight more top names in the featherweight world, it’s the fashion he disposed of them they didn’t just lose. They got dismantled more efficiently than an M16 be dismantled by a top brass military personnel. Razor sharp hands, perfect combinations, counter strikers, crushing leg kicks that chopped away and made viewers at home and in the crowd wince overtime they connected. Amazing cardio that could push his opponents until their will completely broke with constant pressure, whilst he had barely gotten out of second gear. Perfect takedown defence and, if he wished to take you there, a dominant clinch game gave his victims nowhere to hide. Crushing victories like the first Chad Mendes fight showed just why Aldo is held with such high regard. Mendes with his hands clasped around Aldo with his back, many would have thought he would have been in the perfect position for the former, and extremely successful wrestler, to utilise his game. Until Aldo unclasped Mendes’ hands and spun 180 degrees to meet Mendes’ takedown attempt with one of the most destructive knees ever seen, sending Mendes flying through the air like a bullet. Or, Aldo’s complete murder or Urijah Faber over 5 rounds with one of the finest, most brutal displays of leg and body kicks which nearly finally broke Faber in the fifth and a dominant ground game which was a stark reminder of why he was not only a man but a machine who stood above every other 145 pounder in the world.

Now, unfortunately, every great competitor across every great sport in the world will eventually lose and every reign must come to an end, and perhaps the cruelest twist of fate for Aldo was that the first time he showed a chink in his armour, he did not only pay the ultimate price, but he paid it in the biggest and most watched stage in MMA history. Now, I am not the biggest McGregor fan to say the least, but this was no lucky shot. This was the product of a mind game battle that Conor won before even setting foot in the octagon. Aldo was over emotional, to eager to hit McGregor, and his normal methodical, strategic game plan went out the window. He over extended and a brilliantly accurate and well timed left dethroned the featherweight champion of the world. What is down right unfair about this is due to the crazy influx of new MMA fans McGregor brought into the sport, there are now so many out there who know Aldo just through that night alone, disregarding his stellar career, you’ll always find them in the comment section of any Aldo article or post mumbling 13 seconds whilst mcGregor’s balls nestle firmly on their tongues. Take nothing away from Conor, what he did was amazing but unfortunately to a lot of MMA fans that is what Aldo is known for. Aldo bounced back with a cruising victory against Edgar at UFC 200 and although he lost twice to Holloway, he is still far from past it (Holloway and Aldo coming soon). Holloway is a magnificent fighter slap bang in the middle of his prime, and although Aldo is still the best of all time, he is no longer in that phase of his career. He can still hang with the best, but unfortunately he met Holloway a couple of years too late.

Now Aldo has stated he will retire this year it is a shame to see a legend of Aldo’s stature go. I honestly hope he beats Moicano this Saturday night and goes on to win one or two more before he bows out. I’d also like to see him avenge his loss to Conor but with the cue of guys lining up to face him this seems unlikely. But, when he does finally lay his gloves down in the octagon and call it a day, lets not remember him for the 13 second knockout from Conor, remember him as one of the greatest ever, a man who’s 10 year reign was one of the most dominant reigns across any weight class in MMA history. Remember him as a man who destroyed and dismantled man after man, making them look like toddlers. The great white shark in a sea of featherweight competitors, the greatest featherweight to ever grace the sport and thank him for every single fight and moment he gave us because there will never be another like him, there will never be another King Jose Aldo Jr.

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