En route to retaining the UFC Featherweight Championship on Saturday night in the Maracanazinho Gymnasium, Rio de Janeiro, Jose Aldo proved his fighting champion status once again, magnificently overcoming the spirit and improved all round game of Chad Mendes.
In a back and forth rematch Aldo ensured he remains the only current UFC champion from Brazil, taking his record to 25-1 and extending his impressive unbeaten run that stretches back to 2005.
The Brazilian came through a hard fought five round contest by earning the unanimous points decision 49-46. Always looking dangerous in the stand-up and staying elusive whenever Mendes tried to take the bout to the mat, it was another master class in aggressive striking and mental toughness from the powerful 145 pounder.
Chad Mendes was coming off the back of a five fight winning streak and looked much improved since Aldo inflicted his only career defeat in the same city back in 2012. He looked confident and active throughout, but after only winning the fourth round where he caused a cut to Aldo’s left eye, the champion always had an extra gear to shift into.
Controlling the early rounds with some strong leg kicks, Aldo unsettled the challenger by forcing him to constantly switch stance, and in between a couple of desperate moments for himself where Mendes caught him with the odd strong left hook, Aldo rocked his opponent several times and looked the stronger as the fight was called to a close.
Aldo, when quizzed post-match as to what was in store next for a man extending his winning run to 18 fights, inferred Conor McGregor ‘‘a joker,’’ seemingly responding to the Irishman’s brash presence in Rio all week. It does not take a genius to work out Dana White’s next move once McGregor beats Dennis Siver in January, but he should be careful what he wishes for based on the champion’s display.
Elsewhere on a mixed card, Phil ‘Mr Wonderful’ Davis continued his excellent form in Rio by winning his Light Heavyweight contest with Glover Teixeira on points. Dominating every round with his high level ground game and using his huge frame to take Teixeira to his knees and punish him with some heavy right hands, Davis surprisingly called out UFC legend Anderson Silva at the close, who was watching on Octagon-side.
The crowd had already seen plenty of ‘The Spider’ earlier that evening. In a top of the cage embrace with former training partner Fabio Maldonaldo, the pair banished any previous fallout when celebrating the latter’s second round TKO victory over Dutchman Hans Stringer.
There was also an impressive victory for Iranian Beneil Dariush in his Lightweight fight with Diego Ferreira, and Darren Elkins also scored the win over Lucas Martins in an uneventful contest second up.