And still champion.
Jose Aldo turned back the stiffest challenge of his career last Saturday at UFC 179, besting Chad Mendes after a five-round brawl that will be up to history to properly put in perspective.
In doing so, Aldo answered many of the criticisms that had come to surround his three-and-a-half year tenure as UFC featherweight champion. He was still his measured, technically sublime self during this bout, but when Mendes pushed, Aldo pushed back with true championship mettle.
More than anything, this fight proved that at worst he is an exacting professional, whose skill and pure athleticism remain unmatched by his peers. In moments when he wants to be at his best, he can be one of the most terrifying and awe-inspiring fighters on the planet.
Both aspects of Aldo’s in-ring personality may well come in handy next year, as an unprecedented and robust crop of contenders is suddenly waiting around every corner. Even after dispatching Mendes in impressive fashion, 2015 promises to provide no rest for the 145-pound king.