UFC 212: The Fallen Champion

While many are celebrating Max Holloway’s completed ascension to the very top of his division at UFC 212, it’s difficult to watch someone like Jose Aldo look human.  Despite suffering his second UFC defeat, both of which ended with a KO or TKO finish, Jose Aldo’s dominance truly was something to remember.

To recap the fight, we saw a Jose Aldo who didn’t throw any kicks like many expected.  We saw an Aldo who was overextending more than usual, and perhaps that was in part due to Holloway’s reach matching the former champion’s.  Perhaps the pressure was on to make a statement in his hometown of Rio De Janeiro or an attempt to erase the doubt created by his Ko loss at UFC 194 against Conor McGregor.  In true Aldo fashion we witnessed the speed and the accuracy that usually pops his opponents head back.  We saw Holloway improve as the fight went on and we saw his activity rate increase.  Holloway baited Aldo into brawling and then began getting off his own combinations while at one point walking Aldo down while taunting him in true Nick and Nate Diaz fashion.  Holloway began the bout tentatively and allowed Aldo to get the upper hand while he settled for a few counters here and there, but the third round introduced a different Aldo.

A tired Aldo who was becoming sloppier and sloppier and that would be Holloway’s opening to do what he does and best his opponent with his hands.  A wicked combination was one too many landed on the former king as he went down and what was even more impressive was the way Holloway was able to capitalize and keep Aldo on his back while alternately landing punches.  Aldo was too hurt and too tired to use his hips to get back to his feet.  The old lion was overwhelmed by Holloway who didn’t let up when he smelled blood.  Aldo can take solace in the fact that he never quit, but in the end he could no longer protect himself or have an answer for the current champion’s barrage.

Aldo’s loss silenced the Brazilian crowd and watching him shake his head while his eyes were glued to the ground was a sad sight to see.  Aldo like many others appeared to be searching for answers.  Aldo spoke about moving up to the lightweight division, he previously spoke out against the UFC by threatening to retire, he discussed regretting ditching soccer aspirations for MMA, he toyed with the idea to try out boxing, and now he is in no longer in the driver’s seat.  That is the sad truth.  Aldo was one of the few UFC champions at the time to publicly criticize the UFC on fighter pay, lack of unionization, and the infamous Reebok deal.  Sure it’s easy to label him a whiner like many fans have done, but Aldo more than paid his dues and it’s sickening to hear how much he’s been dismissed by the fans he spent years of his life entertaining.

Aldo’s next move is unknown and hopefully it’ll be an extended period of time until we see him back in the octagon, but I think it’s best if we don’t have to watch him struggle to make 145 lbs again.  Aldo is only 30, but he is slowly becoming a seasoned 30 years of age and it’s more likely due to the various amount of injuries he’s sustained in his career.  One positive note to take away from this fight is how tough an out Aldo is and I don’t think Aldo is the type of competitor who can lose a decision, you’d have to finish him in order to defeat him and hats off to Max Holloway for capping off his 11th straight victory and doing in such an impressive fashion and in a hostile setting.

Holloway is riding high at 25 and has aspirations to rule over his division for a long time and Frankie Edgar is likely next.  Hopefully their fight takes place in Hawaii like Holloway has been campaigning for.  It’s time to welcome the MMA world to the Max Holloway era and pay respects to the old guard who will forever be a pioneer for the lighter weight classes in MMA.

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