Jose Aldo continued on his path of destruction last night, crushing the dreams of 35-year-old Kenny Florian. Aldo went to the judges' scorecards for the third time in four fights, but there was no question who won the fight in the end.
Florian didn't look awful, but he certainly had trouble mounting any great offense against the featherweight king. After defending his title for the fourth time and posting his thirteenth straight victory, the question is: what's next for the champion?
Aldo has fought and defeated the who's who of the featherweight division. He sent former WEC featherweight champion Urijah Faber packing back down to the bantamweight division. He took the WEC featherweight belt from Mike Brown, who hasn't been able to get back on track since the round two TKO loss. Finally, he simply was too much for Canadian Mark Hominick and Ultimate Fighter seasons five and four competitors Manvel Gamburyan and Florian.
Luciano Azevedo is the last man to beat Aldo, which dates back to November 2005 and took place at the lightweight limit as oppose to his usual 145-pound weight class.
Canadian Hominick made Aldo look human in round five of their title fight in Toronto's Rogers Center for UFC 129—too little, too late are the right words to describe Hominick's success. After taking a brutal beat-down for the four first rounds, the Canadian fighter secured top position for the majority of the fifth round, reigning down strikes and looking for the finish of an obviously exhausted Aldo, but the finish never came.
Many people thought Florian's best chance was to tire out Aldo like Hominick—unfortunately for Florian, Aldo looked anything, but tired at the end of their five round affair.
What's next for the champion? Probably a lot more of what fans have already seen—many more successful title defenses.
In space, Aldo is a terror for anyone; he is lightening quick and explosive. He often catches opponents off guard with his striking and with his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, he is competent on the ground as well.
Right now, there aren't many guys, if any, that can take the belt from Aldo and he is quickly turning in to the next Georges St-Pierre, Anderson Silva and Dominick Cruz of his decision.
That being said, Aldo has lost in the past and it was on the ground and Hominick made Aldo look human on the ground too, so the man to test Aldo's mettle would probably have to be an extraordinary wrestler. I say extraordinary because Faber and Brown are standout wrestlers themselves, but they couldn't implement it against Aldo.
Enter Chad Mendes. Mendes is a teammate of Faber on team Alpha male and is 11-0 in his mixed martial arts career. His most notable victory is probably his win over 13-1 fighter Erik Koch.
Mendes has a very strong wrestling base. He is a former NCAA division I competitor with an overall record of 64-14 and made an appearance in the 141 pound finals in his final season after going 30-1.
The transition from wrestling to MMA has been a smooth one for Mendes. He has been able to utilize his wrestling to grind out decision victories over the majority of his opponents and really is a dominant force once he gains top position. Obviously, Mendes's style isn't always a fan favorite, but as many wrestlers have shown, their style can be very effective inside the octagon.
Mendes has shown marked improvement in his striking and if he continues to round out his overall game, he has the potential to become a real force in the division.
Although Mendes is probably another two fights away from challenging for the title, if he continues to improve his striking to the point where he can use it to setup his takedowns against even the most competent strikers like Aldo, he will be a tough fight for the best in the division.
It is too early to say at this point whether Mendes would be able to beat Aldo, but it will probably take a wrestler of his caliber to challenge Aldo for the title.
Until then, expect Aldo to continue with his winning ways and his ascension up the pound for pound rankings.
Leon Horne is a writer for Bleacher Report and is part of the B/R MMA interview team, Follow @Leon_Horne
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