Ever since landing a gig with the WEC in 2008, UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo has looked virtually invincible.
Aldo has reeled off 11 consecutive wins, claiming three victories in the UFC and outstriking 10 of 11 opponents along the way. Although he was outstruck 18-15 in his last bout at UFC 142, "Scarface" ended the bout with one second left in the first round with a vicious knockout of Chad Mendes.
A Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, Aldo also hasn't spent much time on his back in his fights under the Zuffa, LLC banner. In fact, since finishing Alexandre Franca Nogueira in his WEC debut in June 2008, Aldo has only surrendered three takedowns.
While Aldo has trounced the most feared featherweight fighters in the world for more than four years, his UFC 156 opponent, Frankie Edgar, will certainly represent the best wrestler and most well-rounded fighter Scarface has tangled with.
Here are three reasons why Edgar, who outshined some of the best 155-pounders in the world for more than five years, will dethrone Aldo in the UFC's first-ever featherweight superfight on Saturday.
Regardless of whether pundits believe Edgar triumphed over Benson Henderson in his last two lightweight title fights, few knowledgeable experts would dare question "The Answer's" resiliency or his propensity to prepare for all-out wars.
In his 19 pro fights since 2005, Edgar has only tasted defeat in decision losses to Henderson and Gray Maynard. Edgar also had to grind his way to decision wins in six of his nine UFC tilts, including back-to-back workmanlike wins over BJ Penn in lightweight title fights in 2010.
Long considered a warrior, Edgar solidified his status as one of the sport's toughest fighters when he TKO'd Maynard late in the fourth round of their third fight at UFC 136 to cap an inspiring performance.
In an interview with The MMA Hour's Ariel Helwani, Edgar explained his strategy to neutralize Aldo's explosive style.
I think me pushing the pace could be something that I could use to my advantage. In his last fight, it only went the first round, so we didn't really get to see his cardio. But the Hominick fight, it looked like he slowed down some. And the Florian fight was a pretty controlled pace, so I think pushing the pace is going to be something I'm gonna try to do.
The lone smudge on Aldo's résumé occurred back in November 2005, and it didn't come from an upper-echelon wrestler. Actually, Aldo's only setback came via submission to Luciano Azevedo, a fellow Brazilian who has yet to compete in the UFC.
Always considered a fearsome striker, Aldo has used his extraordinarily flexible hips to build a reputation as one of the sport's best defensive wrestlers in his last 11 fights.
Aldo allowed just one takedown in his eight-fight tenure with the WEC and has allowed two floorings in his three-fight UFC career. Jonathan Brookins, Mark Hominick and Kenny Florian each flattened Aldo once, but only Hominick managed to pass Scarface's guard.
Granted, Aldo stuffed takedown attempts from Mendes, Urijah Faber and Mike Brown, among many others, but he shouldn't expect to shrug off Edgar's shots with similar ease.
A former NCAA All-American wrestler at Clarion University, Edgar has amassed 42 takedowns in 13 UFC tilts, including seven in two fights against Henderson.
But while talking to Helwani, Edgar, who averages 2.73 takedowns per fight, complimented Aldo's wrestling prowess.
I think it's pretty solid. As far as defensively, it's very solid. Chad Mendes is probably one of the best wrestlers in the UFC and he had a hard time taking Jose down. And when he fought Hominick, he had some very nice offensive takedowns, as well.
There's a substantial difference between being rendered unconscious and being rocked in a fight. Edgar has experienced plenty of the latter, but he has never endured the former.
As evidenced by his brawls with Maynard, Edgar can weather barrages of violent strikes against top-tier fighters without losing consciousness.
Edgar may not possess a Nick Diaz-like chin, but his jaw certainly has passed several notable litmus tests thus far in the UFC. Not only did he survive numerous ferocious assaults from Maynard, The Answer also endured heavy offensives from both Henderson and Penn.
Although born with a sturdy chin, Edgar didn't genuinely evolve as a mixed martial artist until linking up with master Muay Thai instructor Phil Nurse. Edgar has sponged off Nurse and has tailored his standup game, namely his footwork, to meet the legendary coach's specifications.
The Answer must steer clear of a flash knockout in the bout's early rounds and then use his superior footwork to avoid Aldo's crushing leg-kick attacks later in the match.
If he can minimize Aldo's ability to land both significant combinations and waves of leg kicks, Edgar can implement his pressure-heavy game plan and realistically become the first fighter under the Zuffa, LLC banner to serve Scarface a loss.