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The full brilliance of Jose Aldo was on display Saturday night in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as he outpointed a game Chad Mendes. An instant classic and fight for the ages, it was his eighteenth consecutive win and his ninth title defense. He stands alone as the greatest featherweight in the history of the sport, a strong contender for the elusive title of pound-for-pound kingpin.

In the cage, all of Aldo's strengths were on display. His powerful striking, killer instinct and stellar takedown defense made it all too clear why he's been dispatching all comers for nearly a decade.

It was only after the fight, when the roar of the crowd faded and the red lights of dozens of video cameras shined bright, that all of his weaknesses, too, came to the forefront. 

Before the bout with Mendes, Aldo was vocal in his complaints about fighter pay, suggesting that the UFC owes its fighters a bigger slice of the monetary pie. It's a fair point, though perhaps not Aldo's to make. After all, he's a historically poor pay-per-view performer, failing over and over again to capture the hearts and minds of UFC fans. His interview after the fight with Fox Sports' Ariel Helwani shows why.

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With apologies to Conor McGregor, the finely tailored Irishman who has taken the Ultimate Fighting Championship by storm, Saturday night's UFC 179 event proved that the two best featherweights in the world reside Brazil and the United States.

McGregor will have his day in the sun, and I suspect it will come sooner rather than later; I've already stockpiled column ideas for the eventual day when we find out Dennis Siver has suffered a mysterious injury and has been forced out of his January bout with McGregor. Let's not pretend any of us will act surprised by that news.

The UFC finally has a hot 145-pound ticket on their hands, and much of it is due to Aldo's gutty performance against Mendes in the main event of UFC 179.

It was not Aldo's most dominant performance, but it might have been his best. For much of the five rounds, Mendes took everything Aldo could dish out. Where others have wilted under Aldo's enormous power, Mendes smiled, wagged a finger and fired right back. The only real knockdown scored by Aldo over five full rounds came after the bell in the first, when Aldo drilled Mendes with an absolutely blatant cheating punch.

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Jose Aldo is the only featherweight champion the UFC has ever had.

It has been nearly nine years since he gave up the only loss of his career, and truth be told, he has rarely been challenged since that night. He stormed into the WEC in 2008 and finished his first five opponents, then finished champion Mike Brown to capture the featherweight title. That championship eventually became the UFC featherweight title, and Aldo's held it ever since.

But those six finishes to begin his Zuffa career? Those became increasingly rare after Aldo captured the belt. In the four years he's been WEC/UFC champion, Aldo has finished three opponents. He's gone to decision five times. Granted, his pace has slowed greatly; eight fights in four years is not a very dense schedule.

Still, it's as though Aldo's style has undergone a shift in tone. He's no longer the terrifying finisher he once was. Instead, he's content to sit back and wait for his opponents to make a mistake. If they don't make a mistake, he's perfectly fine scoring enough points to win a decision.

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It’s strange to think of UFC 179 as a must-win situation for Phil Davis.

Theoretically, Davis is still in the thick of his fighting prime. He’s a respectable 12-2-1 and continues to hang around the UFC’s light heavyweight Top 10. Before April’s decision loss to a resurgent Anthony Johnson, he hadn’t tasted defeat in more than two years, and his three-fight win streak included a victory over former champion Lyoto Machida.

Nonetheless, Davis’ Saturday showdown with Glover Teixeira feels steeped in uneasy implications. If he wins, Davis will have vanquished the man who most recently challenged for the 205-pound title and who himself began his UFC career with five straight wins in 2012-13.

If he loses, Davis could well see his dreams of being a serious contender for the light heavyweight crown crumple for good.

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In mixed martial arts we have a bad tendency to write our narratives in stone, preferring pen even in the early stages of a fighter's career when a pencil would probably be a better choice. Oft-injured UFC champion Cain Velasquez is the perfect example. 

It seemed likely that Velasquez would become the best heavyweight fighter of all time. He ran through living legend Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira like an out-of-control bus, finished champion Brock Lesnar with a flurry of punches and put the kind of sustained hurting on poor Junior dos Santos that you might only see once in a lifetime. 

Every tool was there—work ethic, athleticism, will and a multitude of skill. It felt right to proclaim him the greatest of all time. So, collectively, many did, leapfrogging Nogueira, Randy Couture and even the great Fedor Emelianenko in a rush to glory.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the Hall of Fame. First, Cain's rotator cuff gave out on him, not once, but twice. His knee, seemingly, has followed suit, forcing him to withdraw from his UFC 180 defense against Fabricio Werdum on November 15 in Mexico City.

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The UFC's new golden child is returning, and he's not returning for the gold.

According to a Thursday report from Steven Marrocco of, Conor McGregor—the fast-rising featherweight who has quickly captured the attention of mixed martial arts fans and UFC brass—will return to the Octagon in January for a bout against Dennis Siver.

UPDATE: Friday, Oct. 24 at 11:00 a.m. EST: 

It's official. The UFC announced today that McGregor will fight Siver in the main event at a special Sunday edition of UFC Fight Night at Boston's TD Garden arena on Jan. 18. 

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Don’t get me wrong, Jose Aldo has been a very good champion for the UFC.

Aldo, in fact, is the only featherweight titlist the Octagon has ever known. By the time the UFC absorbed the WEC at the end of 2010, he’d so firmly entrenched himself as the best 145-pounder in the world, executives merely “promoted” him to the rank of UFC champion without bothering to have him fight for it.

It was the right move. Today, he's the fight company’s longest-reigning champ. As he approaches a UFC 179 rematch with Chad Mendes on Saturday, he's No. 2 on the organization’s official pound-for-pound rankings. His streak of successful UFC/WEC title defenses stands at eight and—perhaps most astounding of all—he’s the proud owner of 17 consecutive overall victories.

All impressive numbers from any vantage.


A conversation with Emanuel Newton, Bellator's light heavyweight champion, is unlike a conversation with anyone else in mixed martial arts. If pushed, he can take you to some very strange places. But pushing him is not strictly necessary for the journey.

Pick any question, even the standard ones about techniques, training partners and longtime goals—just don't expect a standard answer in return. At one point during our 23-minute talk in advance of his Bellator 130 title defense Friday against Linton Vassell on Spike TV, Newton talked for nearly four consecutive minutes, straight monologuing about the meaning of life.

You may know him as the master of the spinning backfist, a move he says he's mastered with coaches Arnold Chon and Robert Drimel. He's more. So much more. The man, simply put, is a little bit weird. Delightfully so.

"How we make our decisions is off of our deja vus. Our coincidences. Our dreams. Our omens. The energy that comes from a person's heart can turn that thought into works. We all have auras. We all have chakras in our body. And when you do that stuff, you can bless yourself," Newton said. "...The same atom that dwells in our DNA is the same atom that makes up our sun. There's no difference. We're made from stardust. You know?" 

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As a recently disgraced UFC broadcaster might say, here we go.

After months of injury delays and one canceled pay-per-view—RIP UFC 176!Jose Aldo and Chad Mendes will finally rematch on Saturday at UFC 179.

Much has transpired since their first semi-controversial meeting back in January of 2012. Mendes has embarked on a crazy K/TKO rampage while Aldo (seemingly always ailing from some injury) has fallen off the radar a bit.

Around them, the 145-pound division has suddenly grown more interesting than ever with the arrival of Conor McGregor and the emergence of guys like Cub Swanson and Dennis Bermudez. Whoever wins this one will be set for some big fights and maybe some big paydays, too.

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Tuesday's decision by the Ultimate Fighting Championship to rescind a suspension handed down to Cung Le was a curious one.

For those unaware, Le was sent to the sidelines for 12 months after a blood sample taken after his August 23 loss to Michael Bisping showed an elevated level of human growth hormone.

There was rampant speculation prior to the fight that Le was taking a performance-enhancing drug of some sort. Nearly all of this speculation stemmed from a photo Le posted on Instagram that showed significant improvements in his physique. They were remarkable improvements, really, when you consider Le's age.

Le proclaimed his innocence then, saying the new muscles he displayed were mostly the result of perfect lighting in the moment the photo was snapped. We were skeptical. And when Le's test results were announced, the reaction from the general public was: See? We told you so.