Jose Aldo has more on his mind than simply defending his UFC Featherweight title or putting on a show for his Brazilian compatriots against Chad Mendes at UFC 142 in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday.
Above all, Aldo will be out to prove that he belongs in the debate over who's the best pound-for-pound fighter in mixed martial arts today, right alongside the likes of Jon Jones and fellow countryman Anderson Silva.
"Scarface" has flown somewhat under the radar since the UFC engulfed the WEC, earning five-round decision victories over Mark Hominick and Kenny Florian in 2011.
Aldo's superiority as a striker is no secret, though his ground game and stamina in a physical match remain mysteries for the most part.
Aldo had some difficulty against Florian when "Ken Flo" got him against the cage, forcing Aldo to exert an inordinate amount of energy while squirming his way out of a difficult situation.
Hominick, meanwhile, was effective merely for withstanding the punishment that Aldo dished out through the first four rounds, thereby tiring Aldo out and opening him up for attack in the final frame.
Still, getting Aldo in a suppliant grappling position will be no easy task, even for an expert wrestler like Mendes. "Moneyshot" is more than a worthy challenger for "Scarface," with the sort of strength, stamina and takedown ability to put Aldo's perceived weaknesses to the test.
That is, if Mendes can get him on the mat. As with the knock on Jon Jones having never faced adversity in the Octagon, there's a reason Aldo's grappling skills remain a mystery—because he's so good on his feet that he's hardly ever had to put his ground game to good use.
That figures to be the case against Mendes, who's never had to face a fighter with a stand-up game as dominant as Aldo's.
Of course, few have simply because few fighters are as good on their feet as Aldo is.
Even so, takedown or no, expect Aldo to put on a show for the home crowd with a barrage of devastating blows against Mendes while reminding UFC fans everywhere that he truly is an elite mixed martial artist.
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