With Anderson Silva dethroned and Georges St-Pierre taking a break from fighting, Jose Aldo suddenly has a chance to become the most dominant UFC champion going.
At UFC 169, the featherweight champion will try to defend his UFC belt on a sixth consecutive outing. If he beats Ricardo Lamas on Saturday, Aldo would be tied with Jon Jones for the most consecutive title defenses inside the Octagon during a current title reign. Considering his stranglehold over the 145-pound class dates back to his WEC days, Aldo could make a case for being the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world this weekend.
Having won four straight fights, Lamas will be looking to end Aldo's championship run. The 31-year-old has torn through his competition since joining the UFC roster and could present some problems for Aldo should he find a way to take the titleholder to the ground.
As this 145-pound championship bout approaches, here is a look at how Aldo and Lamas match up in all areas.
When talking about the best strikers in MMA history, Jose Aldo has to be one of the first fighters mentioned.
The Brazilian has some of the most dangerous knees in the business and can jab opponents to death. Both weapons will be key against Ricardo Lamas, who is going to be looking to work inside immediately on Saturday.
During his UFC career, Lamas has not spent a ton of time standing. When he has, the 31-year-old has not showed enough to suggest he'd be a legitimate striking threat to the champion, especially in the early rounds.
While Aldo has picked apart anybody who has stood with him, Lamas has been stopped with strikes by Iuri Alcantara and Danny Castillo. If those fighters can put Lamas away, there is little reason to believe Aldo won't be able to at UFC 169.
Ricardo Lamas is definitely going to be the fighter more interested in going to the ground in this matchup, but I wouldn't be so sure he's a better wrestler than Jose Aldo.
Since joining the UFC roster, Aldo has only been taken down four times, while he's scored 10 takedowns of his own. Notably difficult to hold down, the featherweight champion has only allowed multiple takedowns in a single outing when he faced former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar, who wasn't able to do much once he had the Brazilian on the ground.
While Lamas scored multiple takedowns against Erik Koch and Cub Swanson, he's going to have a tough time convincing anybody he's a stronger wrestler than Edgar is, and "The Answer" was successful on only 18 percent of his takedown attempts against Aldo.
Since he also surrendered four takedowns against Hatsu Hioki and one opposite Swanson, I wouldn't even be shocked if Lamas found himself on his back at UFC 169 should Aldo decide to mix things up.
Ricardo Lamas' ground game has been the biggest reason for his rise to his current position in the featherweight division. However, even if he does find a way to get Jose Aldo to the ground on Saturday, he's going to have a hard time controlling the champion.
Aldo is a jiu-jitsu black belt who hasn't had many shortfalls on the ground since his lone submission loss that occurred over eight years ago. When he has shown weaknesses on the canvas, as he did in the final round of his bout with Mark Hominick, Aldo's conditioning was more accurately blamed than his grappling ability.
The Brazilian willingly rolled with one of the trickier grapplers in the featherweight division when he met Chan Sung Jung. Aldo never really found himself in any danger of being submitted in that matchup, and he should against Lamas either.
Considering the beating he laid on Erik Koch at UFC on Fox 6, Lamas' ground-and-pound should concern Aldo. However, the challenger is going to have difficulty holding Aldo down long enough to land a significant number of big shots.
Frankie Edgar even had difficulty controlling Aldo on the ground, so Lamas is also going to have trouble until the titleholder tires.
Jose Aldo's conditioning has become his most glaring weakness, as he has consistently faded in fights that last five rounds. Unless he improves in that area, it will eventually lead to his downfall.
Will Ricardo Lamas be the one to break the champion in the later frames?
A 12-month break in action won't help his chances. Nor will the fact that Lamas has never seen a fifth round in his own MMA career.
Still, even above Aldo's experience in big fights, conditioning is the most important intangible factor heading into this matchup.
Ricardo Lamas comes into this matchup with wrestling and conditioning being his greatest weapons against Jose Aldo. He's not the first to threaten the featherweight champion with those assets, though.
Recent title challengers Frankie Edgar and Chad Mendes both arguably possessed stronger wrestling and more proven conditioning than Lamas. Still, Aldo held the pair to two takedowns over six combined rounds and defeated both to retain his 145-pound crown.
He's earned his shot at the champion, but Lamas doesn't bring anything more than many of Aldo's past challengers. The American will need to push the pace and hope he doesn't get blasted with a knee while doing so. Even then, Lamas will probably be battling back from behind and still need a late finish to get his hand raised.
Aldo defeats Lamas by (T)KO in the second round.
Statistics via FightMetric.com.