In the fastest growing sport in the world, perhaps no athlete has had a faster rise to the top than Jose Aldo.
Aldo will face Urijah Faber Saturday night at WEC 48 in what could become a career-defining fight for the young Brazilian.
Aldo, who won't turn 24 until September, has a career record of 16-1. His only loss came in 2005, when he was still fighting exclusively outside of the United States.
Whether it is a double flying knee, tremendous fists, outstanding kicks, or his BJJ, Aldo has finished fights in every way possible. Having such a deep arsenal of weapons, along with blinding speed, makes him one of the hardest fighters to prepare for.
Although he owns a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, fans in America haven't been able to see him use his considerable ground skills to this point.
His devastating striking skills have been all Aldo has needed to run over his competition. He may have the most complete all-around game of any fighter not named Anderson Silva.
Aldo has already impressed enough fans and critics that most rank him in the top ten of pound-for-pound best fighters in the world. He has seemingly been more impressive each time he enters the cage than the time before.
Since entering the WEC in June 2008, Aldo has won all six of his fights in dominant fashion, winning Knockout of the Night three times.
Can a win over Urijah Faber, the best featherweight fighter in the history of the sport, cement Aldo's place not only in the top ten, but at the top of the pound-for-pound rankings as the best fighter in the world?
Most top ten lists currently have Fedor Emelianenko, Georges St. Pierre, and Anderson Silva ahead of Aldo in pound-for-pound rankings. When taking a closer look at each fighter, a case can be made for Aldo to sit above all of them in the rankings.
Aldo will be fighting for the seventh time since making his WEC debut in June 2008. In that same amount of time, Fedor has fought just three times.
Yes, he was very impressive in all three fights, but to be ranked as the very best in the world, a fighter should be fighting much more often than three times in a two-year period.
The WEC Featherweight champion was just as impressive in his wins in that time period, and he fought twice as much as the Russian. No matter who is at fault for his inactivity, until Fedor fights on a more regular basis, he shouldn't be ranked ahead of Aldo.
Since losing his UFC Welterweight title to Matt Serra in April 2007, Georges St. Pierre has won all seven of his fights. However, of those seven fights, four of them were won by decision.
St. Pierre may fight smarter than anyone else in the sport, but he doesn't finish fights the way Aldo does.
GSP fights not to lose, while Aldo fights to win. Both are effective strategies, and while St. Pierre's strategy may be smarter to his long-term success, Aldo leaves no doubt in his fights of who the better fighter is.
The ultimate goal when stepping inside the cage is to win a fight. Winning a fight via a decision is impressive, but it leaves the fate in the judges' scorecards, and that's a dangerous proposition.
In the pre-fight hype for his match with Frankie Edgar, BJ Penn said the following,
"A good fighter will win a fight going to a decision, but a real champion will end a fight and leave no doubt of his greatness."
St. Pierre is a champion, but he doesn't end fights anywhere near the way that Aldo does.
No one doubts the physical tools of Anderson Silva. He is a lethal striker with amazing skills on the ground. However, we all saw the bad side of Silva at UFC 112.
When fighting as a light-heavyweight, everyone has seen Silva at his very best. He has dominated both James Irvin and Forrest Griffin when fighting at 205.
However, the problem for Silva has come when defending his middleweight title.
He has been uninspired by his fights against Demian Maia, Thales Leites, and Patrick Cote. Most would agree that he could have won those fights quite easy, as he showed glimpses of finishing the fight at any moment.
The fact of the matter is that he didn't finish those fights. He decided to try and make a point to Dana White and the rest of the UFC.
Sadly, Silva is the only one that came out of those bouts looking foolish. A great champion lives up to those expectations at all times, and Silva hasn't done that lately when fighting as a middleweight.
Aldo, on the other hand, has never tried to make any personal statement in the cage other than beating his opponent in spectacular fashion. He fights the way that everyone believes Silva is capable of.
Aldo has already beaten what was thought to be a potentially dominant champion when he dispatched of Mike Brown. A win over Urijah Faber will show those that still aren't convinced just how good Aldo truly is.
Should he be known as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world?
That title is up for debate, but few, if any fighters can make as strong of a case for the top spot than Jose Aldo.
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