Jose Aldo has been hearing it from fans lately that the once entertaining striker has played it safe now that he is in the UFC.
Now the current UFC featherweight champion faces a huge test at UFC 142 in Chad Mendes.
Mendes is much like his training partner, Urijah Faber, whom Aldo beat convincingly in 2010. Of course there is a difference between Mendes and Faber, though. Mendes is an improved version of the former WEC featherweight champion.
Mendes has the ability to bring the fight to Aldo and take him down with his powerful wrestling. Once there, it is only a matter of time before Aldo gets drained from being on the bottom.
Aldo has to bring his fight to Mendes and keep him away. In order for Aldo to win, the fight has to stay standing and he has to pick Mendes apart from the pocket. If he can do that it greatly improves his chances.
Aldo is a devastating striker and has the ability to knockout anyone in the 145-pound weight class. I don't think anyone here can dispute that.
Here though, Aldo needs to be different. If he plays it safe and doesn't push a fast tempo with crisp striking, Mendes will get him down.
Mendes is the one fighter Aldo can't afford to sleep on as he is probably the best chance the featherweight division has at a new champion.
Aldo needs to work his leg kicks to wear out Mendes and then begin the striking clinic. Mendes is improving in his striking, but he isn't at Aldo's level.
If Aldo decides to play it safe, Mendes will make him pay.