The People’s Champion, showing Chael Sonnen how it’s done. Props: @CopperHeartCT
With the UFC’s quick return to Rio de Janeiro, the promotion had high expectations to live up to. Their last visit saw a nearly perfect performance from one of the sport’s most dominant champions, a local favorite earning a quick finish, and (most) Brazilian fighters outmatching their foreign opponents on their ways to victory. It was going to be difficult to entertain the local fans the same way that UFC 134 did, yet the UFC’s return to Brazil netted nearly identical results.
Heading into his title defense against Chad Mendes last night, critics were starting to say that Jose Aldo was beginning to coast his way through fights. That the fight finisher fans grew to love in the WEC had been replaced by a fighter content to go through the motions en route to a decision victory. In front of his home country, Aldo made an impressive statement by finishing “Money” Mendes in the first round.
Mendes displayed improved striking, but that means little when facing the lethal limbs of Jose Aldo. To win this fight–or even stay competitive–Mendes needed to put the champion on his back, yet time and time again his best efforts were thwarted. Though Aldo blatantly grabbed the fence to prevent one takedown, a follow-up attempt from the same position seconds later barely took his feet off the ground. Had he been deducted one point- or ten- it’s hard to imagine the fight going any other way. The brilliant takedown defense and impeccable timing he showed throughout the bout were on full display in the closing seconds of round one. Aldo’s transition to the fight ending knee was nothing short of perfection, something only a dominant striker of his caliber could dream of pulling off.