Let me preface this post by saying I think both Jose Aldo and Georges St. Pierre are two of the top five greatest mixed martial artists of all-time. And in my opinion, are both being unfairly discredited (whether it be by Dana or by the fans), for their lack of finishing fights.
“The thing about Jose Aldo that drives me crazy is the kid has all the talent in the world,” White told ESPN.com. “He’s explosive, fast. He can do anything but he just lays back and doesn’t let anything go.”
“When you talk about being the pound-for-pound best in the world, you can’t go five rounds with guys that it looks like you can defeat them in the second round. That’s what Aldo has a habit of doing.”
Dana’s comments saying Jose Aldo cannot be the pound-for-pound best because he doesn’t finish, sound familiar?
GSP was seen as #2 Pound-for-pound fighter for the longest time because Anderson Silva was finishing his fights, although the same thoughts were not said by Dana White, many fans had the very same thoughts as Dana does now for Aldo. Is it absolutely necessary to finish fights to be considered the best?
Jose Aldo has completely dominated in every single fight he’s been in from WEC to UFC. He has convincingly won every single fight that went to a decision by a comfortable 4 rounds to 1 margin, the most common score being 49-46—with the exception of 1 scorecard in the fight against Frankie Edgar, scoring the fight 48-47 for Aldo. That’s the closest Aldo has came to losing a fight on the scorecards. Sound familiar? Yes, former welterweight champion, GSP had won a consecutive 33 rounds in UFC competition before dropping a round to contender Jake Shields at UFC 129. But as dominant as GSP was, he couldn’t shake off the stigma that he was unable to finish fights. And now with 4 of his 6 UFC fights going to a decision, it seems Jose Aldo has begun to absorb some of that same criticism.
The combinations Aldo is able to throw on the feet are second to none, the efficiency he throws his trademark leg kicks with, one or two before he has his opponents circling the cage with a noticeable limp. What does Pound-for-Pound truly mean? Everyone has their own distinct meaning of the term, but for me, it all depends on if an athlete’s skill set would translate to every single weight class in the sport. Jose Aldo is one of, if not the best technical striker in all of MMA, with a career 92% takedown defense, and a rarely seen but highly regarded ground game, it doesn’t get much more skilled than the featherweight champion.
Aldo’s finishing rate is currently 67% in his career—finishing 16 of his total 24 wins—with all but two of them coming before he joined the UFC, against opponents such as Manny Gamburyan, Mike Brown, and the previously undefeated, Chad Mendes. Before coming to fight in America for the WEC, Aldo finished his first 7 career fights and 70% of his total fights. In the WEC, Aldo finished 7 of his 8 fights (all by KO/TKO). And in 6 fights in the UFC, he has finished two (33%) opponents (Mendes and Jung).
Between WEC and UFC, the 5 opponents (Faber, Hominick, Florian, Edgar, Lamas) that took Aldo to a decision have a combined 12% career rate of being finished (15/126 fights).
Similar to GSP, Jose Aldo has spoiled those that have been watching him since his WEC debut. In the WEC he was performing highlight reel after highlight reel finish, the most memorable being a double flying knee knockout of Cub Swanson in just 8 seconds. Another point to be made, is that he is indeed facing tougher competition in the UFC than he was in WEC, this is certainly not a knock on his past opponents, but save for a few exceptions, the overall quality of his opponents have definitely increased.
Is the criticism coming from the perceived ‘lack of risks’ that Aldo doesn’t take in his fights? Same was said for the former welterweight champion, Georges St. Pierre. However in systematically picking apart an opponent’s game, calculating each and every move he makes with precision, this is something to be acknowledged and not discredited just because the finish doesn’t come his way.
Why is it that as soon as a fighter has a string of fights where a finish is not achieved, they’re automatically being discredited with negative remarks regarding that lack of finish, rather than seeing the positives for the complete domination over a viable contender? I realize the sport of MMA is a rather blood thirsty one, where some fans just want to see knockouts (and at lesser times, submissions), but why can we not appreciate the complete shutting down of an opponent’s game as well?
As for Aldo, he had this to say the post-fight press conference, regarding the criticism of his fights:
“My opponents study me a lot now and they know my game and my strategy,” Aldo said. “I try to reinvent myself before every fight.”—“If it were up to me, I would end every fight with one punch. The problem is, I have an opponent. He worked very hard for me and he wants to beat me.”
One constant criticism of Aldo is that he gets tired or gassed in the later rounds, I would be one to dispute those claims that are sprouting from one particular fight, his UFC debut against Mark Hominick. In that fight, yes he was completely dominated in the 5th round on his back due to his cardio alluding him; the most susceptible we have seen the champ be in all of his fights. It is widely known that the cause of his running out of gas was due to a poor weight cut leading up to the fight. Because of that one performance critics continue to hold onto the belief that he tends to slow in the later rounds.
But is it because of cardio issues? Or is it that he is just coasting because he knows he has the fight wrapped up and is content on winning the decision? A comparison can be made here to team sports, where a team is completely blowing out an opponent and are content to just move the ball around and kill the clock, rather than take unnecessary risks that could lead to the opponent capitalizing on a mistake.Is it the most exciting thing? No. Is it an intelligent adjustment to make? Absolutely.
Sometimes it does appear as if he lets up in the later rounds to allow his opponents a chance to mount some offense, showing some pity on them in a sense (obviously this may not be the actual reasoning). Case and point, his fight with Urijah Faber in WEC, Aldo bruised and battered Faber with his lethal leg kicks for the first three rounds, rendering Faber’s right leg almost useless. But he stopped throwing those leg kicks in the 4th and 5th rounds, as if to show some mercy and sympathy for his opponent.
As for where he places in the pound-for-pound rankings, one could make a case for him to be the #1 pound-for-pound fighter given that he’s gone undefeated for 8 years, winning 17 straight fights, defending the featherweight title 8 consecutive times. Currently standing in the way of Aldo being named the pound-for-pound king would be the man who is currently widely considered the #1, light heavyweight champion, Jon Jones.
Jose Aldo is expected to face his toughest test to date, in the form of a lightweight title fight against UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis, a fighter who can arguably match Aldo’s skills in the striking department.
Aldo’s only other lightweight fight in his career resulted in his lone career loss, a rear naked choke submission loss to Luciano Azevedo.