The Brazilian wrecking machine has been one of the most dominant champions ever to carry UFC gold, and on Saturday night, he set out to make Ricardo Lamas his 17th consecutive victim. "The Bully" sat on the sidelines for over a year and waited for his opportunity to come around—and on Saturday night, he finally got his chance to face the featherweight king.
While there is no such thing as a flawless performance, Aldo came as close as humanly possible against Lamas in the co-main event at UFC 169.
The 27-year-old showed pinpoint accuracy as he touched up the Chicago native at will and strung together vicious combinations that ended with his signature brutal leg kicks. Aldo's unique blend of speed and power has been crucial to his success thus far in his career, and those attributes were on full display against Lamas.
Another interesting factor the Brazilian phenom showed on Saturday night was patience. He spent the majority of the first round feeling Lamas out and sat back to pick up the challenger's timing. Knowing that wrestling is Lamas' dominant skill, Aldo was careful not to over-commit to his power shots and kept himself from being vulnerable to the takedown.
The speed difference between these two is like the difference between Usain Bolt and a high school state sprint champion. #UFC169— Mike Chiappetta MMA (@MikeChiappetta) February 2, 2014
When Lamas did get inside during the later rounds, Aldo was able to remain on his feet by using balance and the cage for assistance. Even when Lamas was able to put him on his back during the final minute of the fight, Aldo remained calm and prevented his desperate opponent from launching big shots as the clock ticked down.
As the fight concluded, Aldo extended his impressive winning streak to 17 and notched his sixth consecutive successful title defense. While Aldo did not add Lamas to his list of highlight-reel finishes, what we learned about the dominant featherweight champion is that he continues to improve. And while his unique skill set could allow him to be cocky or flashy, those elements were nowhere to be found in his game on Saturday night.
To put it simple terms: Aldo is only getting better. And that is a scary thought.
On the Lamas side of the table, we learned the 31-year-old has heart for miles. Despite having his lead leg battered by vicious kicks from Aldo, Lamas continued to press forward and fire off kicks of his own. While there weren't many areas in which Lamas found success on the offensive side of things, he never backed down, especially as Aldo began to pick up steam and get loose toward the end of the second round.
Going into the final round, Lamas knew it was all or nothing, and he certainly threw everything he had at the long-reigning champion. Toward the end of the fight, Lamas was able to take top position, where he landed enough strikes to take the round on the judges' scorecards.
Though Lamas took the fight coming off a year-long layoff, he fought a game fight against one of the pound-for-pound best on the planet.