Apparently, shoving your opponent during a staredown is the new trend among UFC fighters.
Less than one month after Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier's infamous brawl at the UFC 178 media day in Las Vegas, UFC featherweight champ Jose Aldo invaded Chad Mendes' personal space with a forceful shove inside the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro ahead of their UFC 179 rematch.
MMA Fighting was on scene to capture the action.
While Aldo knocked out Mendes with a brutal knee during their first matchup at UFC 142, this rematch contains plenty of intrigue, shoving matches or not. Almost three years have passed since the first scrap, and Mendes has looked better than ever during that stretch, posting a remarkable 5-0 record with four stoppages.
On top of that, Mendes' teammate, T.J. Dillashaw, recently obliterated Aldo's teammate and former bantamweight champion Renan Barao via TKO at UFC 173 to steal the 135-pound strap. Prior to that fight, Barao had looked untouchable, and Dillashaw dismantled him in every way.
While Aldo has looked incredibly dominant throughout his six-fight run with the UFC, his performances have been slowly declining. He's still unquestionably the best featherweight on earth, but during the same stretch of time, Mendes went 5-0 with four finishes while Aldo went 3-0 with just one finish. Even in that lone victory inside the distance—a fourth-round TKO of "The Korean Zombie" Chan Sung Jung—Aldo looked less dominant than usual, finishing the job only after Jung suffered a serious shoulder injury and was forced to fight with only one effective arm.
This is like the first time there has been any real heat before a Jose Aldo fight. That is not a bad thing.— Marc Raimondi (@marc_raimondi) August 26, 2014
Add in the slowly building rivalry between Team Alpha Male (home to Mendes and Dillashaw) and Nova Uniao (home to Aldo and Barao) as well as this latest scuffle between Aldo and Mendes at the UFC 179 media day, and the upcoming rematch on Oct. 25 is suddenly a can't-miss event.
What do you make of the shove? Is Mendes in Aldo's head, or is Aldo simply hyping the fight to sell some more tickets for his boss?