It’s almost a new definition however for the pride that the Brazilians feel when they get the chance to compete in their home country, and it was no different for UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo on Saturday night in Rio.
Facing undefeated Team Alpha Male fighter Chad Mendes, who through 11 fights and more than 100 minutes in the cage had not lost a round in his MMA career, Aldo was able to end all of that with one well placed knee strike.
In a match-up of wrestler against striker, the key in the fight almost assuredly came down to Mendes’ ability to take the fight to the ground versus Aldo’s takedown defense.
Shutting down Mendes with two early attempts, Aldo set the tone for a fight that didn’t quite make the five-minute mark.
Oddly enough, it was Mendes’ best chance at getting a takedown that ultimately cost him the fight. While Aldo was guilty of grabbing the cage to stop an initial throw from Mendes, the former Cal Poly wrestler’s aggression to keep looking for the suplex ended up being his downfall.
Mendes released his hold of Aldo’s back and as the champion spun around he through a vicious and well timed knee that landed flush on his opponent’s chin.
As Aldo’s knee crushed into Mendes’ face, the challenger fell straight back to the canvas. The champion followed with one more big punch that put his lights out and the fight was over.
Like a rocket being shot into the sky, Aldo shot out of the cage like a cannon to run into the crowd and celebrate with his home country fans. Mobbed by the masses, Aldo was simply elated as he soaked up every moment with his Brazilian fans.
“I was so overcome with emotion that I wanted to celebrate with my people,” Aldo said after the win.
Knowing how Mendes would likely attack his legs looking for the takedown, Aldo said he was fully prepared for the wrestler’s attempts to get him to the ground. His knee strike was the perfectly timed counter, and obviously it worked.
“We knew Chad was going to try to take me off my feet. We prepared for that and I had a chance to land the knee. It connected and I finished the fight,” Aldo stated. “This is the spirit I wanted to come out with tonight. The fans here gave me so much energy.”
Somehow Aldo had been criticized leading into the fight because through two title bouts in the UFC he went to two decisions. The end result however proved Jose Aldo is just as dangerous as he ever has been.
Chad Mendes, now 11-1 as a pro, was nothing but gracious in defeat paying tribute to his foe in the cage. He goes home to America with a bit of a broken heart, but determined to return to the pinnacle of the division again one day.
“Jose is a great champion and he was the better man tonight. He showed why he’s one of the best fighters in the world,” said Mendes. I knew it would be hard to take him down, but I kept trying. I tried to keep the pressure, but he is just so tough and his takedown defense is great.
“I wanted the title so bad.”
Now a winner of fourteen fights in a row with five consecutive title defenses, Jose Aldo has again solidified his place as one of the best fighters on the planet.
His next goal may be to chase the mark of his fellow Brazilian Anderson Silva for wins and his championship run in the UFC.