June 6, 2017

UFC 212: The Featherweight GOAT Is Still Jose Aldo -- For Now

By Adam Martin

Despite a devastating TKO loss to the hands of Max Holloway at UFC 212 this past Saturday night in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, I absolutely still consider Jose Aldo the greatest featherweight fighter of all time.

In the wake of his loss to Holloway, and with a 13-second KO loss to Conor McGregor not that long ago, a certain subsection of fans has tried to rewrite history. Instead of crediting Aldo for all of his incredible past performances,
there are a number of fans who believe the losses to Holloway and McGregor have tarnished Aldo's legacy, and that maybe he wasn't as good as we all thought.

I disagree entirely with that line of thinking, as I believe Aldo is the greatest featherweight ever, and along with Demetrious Johnson, one of the two greatest sub-155-pound fighters ever in this sport, although I believe McGregor and Holloway are absolutely in the discussion and right behind Aldo. Just not ahead of him.

Aldo started fighting MMA in 2004, at age 17, and went 10-1 before being signed by WEC. It was in that promotion that Aldo gained his notoriety, with a brutal eight-second KO win over Cub Swanson earning him his first title shot against then-champion Mike Brown, who Aldo knocked out in the second round. The Brazilian phenom then was pitted against Urijah Faber in what at the time was a massive superfight, and to this day the only pay-per-view event WEC has ever done. I really believe the success of this fight convinced the UFC to bring the lighter weight classes to the UFC, and after knocking out Manny Gamburyan, Aldo came over to the UFC along with the rest of the WEC roster.

In Aldo's UFC debut, he survived a late comeback attempt by Mark Hominick to win a unanimous decision in UFC 129's Fight of the Night. That was the biggest event in UFC history at the time, and with how exciting the fight was, it turned a lot of disbelievers of the "little guys" into fans of Aldo, and of the featherweights in general. Aldo's decision win over Kenny Florian showed he could beat a star UFC fighter, and his KO win over Chad Mendes proved he could beat a powerhouse wrestler.

The dominant win over Frankie Edgar at UFC 156 made most of Aldo's doubters disappear, and then he went on to beat Chan Sung Jung, Ricardo Lamas, and Mendes once again to cement his place as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. Then McGregor came into the picture, and his KO win over Aldo shocked the world. Aldo bounced back with a second dominant victory over Edgar to regain most of the stock he lost against McGregor, but this latest loss to Holloway has really made his stock dip.

Yes, Aldo is no longer the best featherweight in the world, but that doesn't change anything he's done in the past. The fact of the matter is, Aldo has an exceptional record of 26-3, including a spectacular record of 16-2 in the UFC/WEC while fighting the best 145-pounders the sport had to offer for a 10-year stretch. No one wins every fight, and Aldo is human. McGregor may have taken part of his soul and Holloway part of it as well, but Aldo is still one of the greatest. And while McGregor (if he ever returns to the division) and Holloway (who is only 25) have the chance to pass him on the featherweight all-time list one day, it's not anytime soon.

Not only is Aldo the best 145-pounder ever, but he's also in my mind one of the top-10 pound-for-pound fighters of all time. When WEC was being absorbed into the UFC, Aldo was one of the guys who helped make the transition easier because he was so exciting. Maybe he's not the same guy he once was, but he's still a legend of the sport and deserves the respect of the fans as the greatest featherweight ever, the guy with the most top-10 wins, the guy with the most title defenses in the UFC, and the guy who fought everyone Zuffa put in front of him for a decade. It's a shame so many fans want to discredit his past achievements simply because they don't like him, but no one can change facts, and the facts say Aldo is the best. Now let's see what the future holds, and whether Holloway can be the one to take Aldo's title of featherweight GOAT at some point down the road.

UFC 212: Aldo vs. Holloway took place June 3, 2017 at HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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