Jose Aldo knew he'd be in for a long night when he faced Frankie Edgar. The former lightweight champion has made it a habit to stick around for the entire length of a fight, never slowing down.
In the beginning, it looked as if Aldo's striking would be too much for Edgar, as he avoided the former lightweight's strikes and answered back with some of his own.
As the minutes passed, it looked like Edgar's pace began to take its toll on Aldo. But in the end, Aldo did enough to hold onto his UFC featherweight title belt.
Where did Aldo win the fight? When did Edgar nearly take the title away? How did the champion retain his belt?
All those answers and more are in this breakdown of Aldo's performance against the challenger Edgar.
The opening minutes saw Jose Aldo work his game plan to perfection. Frankie Edgar attempted his usual in-and-out footwork, but he ran straight into an Aldo jab.
Aldo displayed his trademark elusiveness as he slipped and avoided the majority of what Edgar threw at him. Aldo only landed a few shots of note, but he demonstrated how to properly use a jab in an MMA bout.
Aldo won the first round based on his effective use of the jab and his ability to avoid Edgar's strikes when the former lightweight champ was able to work his way inside.
The confidence Jose Aldo gained from halting Frankie Edgar's advances in the first round was evident as the champion cracked a smile to open the second frame.
Edgar started off the round nicely by throwing a flurry from up close. But Aldo did a good job of avoiding the majority of the strikes. Edgar had been the aggressor with kicks up to this point, landing a number of inside leg kicks. But in the second round, Aldo began to utilize his Muay Thai skills.
Aldo landed a number of hard leg kicks that had everyone reliving the nightmare of Urijah Faber's leg nearly being kicked off. The effect of Aldo's leg kicks became apparent after only a few shots, and Edgar looked to use his wrestling for the first time.
The first time Edgar looked for a takedown, Aldo was able to shrug it off. In the final moments of Round 2, Edgar was able to catch a kick and score a takedown but did little with it.
Aldo won another 10-9 round after dropping Edgar with a series of leg kicks and continuing to avoid the majority of Edgar's offensive strikes.
The third round is when the champion Jose Aldo's run of control began to dwindle. Frankie Edgar still appeared light on his feet while Aldo was noticeably slower.
Regardless of Aldo's pace slowing down, he landed perhaps the most significant strike of the fight with a head kick flush to Edgar's face. It was a kick that could've easily dropped another competitor, but Edgar simply walked through it.
Instead of Aldo landing leg kicks, it was Edgar who was able use leg kicks to his advantage. Edgar's kicks seemed to sap the wind out of Aldo's sails a bit. Not only was Aldo slower on the offensive side, but he also failed to avoid Edgar's strikes as easily as he did before.
Even though Edgar began to land more and more strikes on the feet, he was still failing to take Aldo down. The Brazilian may have the best takedown defense of any UFC competitor in recent memory, and he validated that claim by shrugging off Edgar's multiple takedown attempts.
The championship rounds were when Frankie Edgar began to turn it up against a fading Jose Aldo.
In the fourth round, Edgar continued to be light on his feet and kept landing more and more strikes. Aldo's jab was not as stiff as it was earlier, which allowed Edgar to work his way inside. The champion also seemed to abandon his leg kicks. Instead, it was Edgar who was using kicks to his advantage.
Edgar was able to work his way inside and land a huge slam to the champion. It was impressive, but Aldo was still able to work his way back to his feet only moments after the takedown. Although Aldo was able to get back up, he found himself trapped against the cage as Edgar landed a series of knees to the leg of Aldo.
Although the damage wasn't as visible as the marks on Edgar's face, the attacks to the legs of Aldo clearly slowed the champion in the later minutes. Instead of using his crisp technique like he did earlier in the fight, Aldo looked to land only power strikes and wasted energy on spinning kicks and flying knees that didn't even faze Edgar.
Jose Aldo continued to fail to keep up with Frankie Edgar's pace as the fifth round wore on. The aggressiveness of Aldo in the opening minutes was gone as Edgar tagged the champion on numerous occasions in the final frame.
Edgar still couldn't land a takedown, a sign of Aldo's impressive takedown defense. But that didn't stop him from taking the fifth round by a wide margin. Edgar's overwhelming onslaught of offense was simply too much for Aldo's defense to handle. It was clear that the momentum of a fight began to change.
Still, Aldo responded with a number of powerful counters and even threw a superman punch off the cage to close out the fight.
Unfortunately for the former lightweight champion, time ran out and Edgar had to leave his fate in the hands of the judges. Once again, Edgar found himself on the losing end of a close fight as Aldo was awarded the unanimous decision.
Jose Aldo clearly won the opening two rounds. His jab was stiff and he properly used it to halt Frankie Edgar's offense. The leg kicks in the second round that swept Edgar off his feet were nasty, and it's a shame that Aldo didn't utilize them more.
That raises the question of why Aldo didn't use his leg kicks more in the fight. I understand that everyone prepares for those nasty leg strikes and he shouldn't depend on them like a crutch. But Aldo needed to use those kicks to slow down Edgar's movement.
Edgar got stronger as the rounds wore on as Aldo visibly began to slow down. The Brazilian's struggles with cutting to featherweight are well known and it showed, as Aldo faded once more in the later rounds. I'm not sure if moving to lightweight is the right move for Aldo at this point. It's easy for anyone to look bad after chasing Edgar around for 25 minutes.
Still, Aldo and his camp need to get their weight loss regimen down to a science to avoid any stamina issues should the champion be forced into deep water once more.