Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight Champion, Jose Aldo, will face undead mixed martial arts (MMA) sensation, Chan Sung Jung, this Saturday (Aug. 3, 2013) in the main event of UFC 163, which takes place at HSBC Arena is Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
After opening up his career with an impressive 10-1 record, Aldo was recruited to the World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) promotion. "Scarface" quickly tore through four opponents before obliterating Cub Swanson in just eight seconds to earn a title shot.
The Brazilian next dominated then-champion Mike Brown, finishing him early in the second round. He was then matched up for former champion Urijah Faber, who had dominated the Featherweight division earlier in his career and was the WEC's biggest star.
Aldo proved just how good he is, completely outclassing Faber in a unanimous decision victory.
After another title defense, Aldo transitioned to the UFC's big stage along with the rest of the WEC stars. He defended his title three more times inside the Octagon, performances that included a devastating knee knockout (Chad Mendes) and a "Fight of the Year" performance (Mark Hominick).
In his most recent fight, he faced former Lightweight champion Frankie Edgar in a 145-pound "super" fight. Aldo and Edgar went to war for five rounds in the UFC 156 main event, with Aldo winning a narrow decision to keep his strap.
Although an injury kept Aldo from fighting Anthony Pettis this weekend, who has since been booked to fight Ben Henderson at UFC 164, "Korean Zombie" was more than willing to step up. In what is sure to be an electric fight, Aldo will once again look to defend his UFC title.
But, does he have what it takes to beat back the South Korean standout?
Let's find out:
Aldo is an incredibly violent and explosive striker. "Scarface" possess a devastating Muay Thai game, using every one of his limbs to get closer to a knockout. Out of his twenty-three victories, Aldo has finished thirteen of his opponents via knockout.
In Aldo's most recent fight, he used jabs to beautifully prevent Edgar's forward motion. Before this fight, Aldo had never really focused on jab, occasionally throwing one or two, but it was never a center piece of his game plan. Then, he revealed his jabbing proficiency and Edgar paid the price.
This fight showed one of two things. Either Aldo has always been skilled with the jab and never showed it in the Octagon, or he learned how to jab that well in one training camp. I'm honestly not sure which is more terrifying, but it shows just how talented the Brazilian is.
Outside of his jab, Aldo has always relied on his right straight and left hook. He throws both punches with speed and power, and can counter with either. When he throws a right straight followed by the hook to the body, he often ends the combo with a leg kick, which is a very common combination in Muay Thai. In his last fight, Aldo even threw a Superman punch by propelling himself off off the cage.
Another of Aldo's favorite punches is the lead uppercut. While the lead uppercut is a risky punch because it leaves the thrower open to easy counters, Aldo is so explosive that he's able to cover the distance quickly, lowering the risk. Additionally, Aldo sets up his attack very well with feints, further eliminating the chance of his opponent countering.
While Aldo is clearly a skilled boxer, he truly shines when he is kicking his opponent. To be more specific, Aldo is a leg kick demon. He cuts a fair amount of weight, which gives him a size and strength advantage, making his leg kicks even more effective. Aldo often throws leg kicks at the end of a combination, when his opponent is backing away from his other strikes, which makes them more difficult to counter.
The most impressive part of Aldo's leg kicks is his accuracy. Not just the fact that he lands very consistently, but his shin cracks the same area on his opponent's leg every time.
While Aldo lands devastating leg kicks in almost all of his fights, the match that truly stands out is his first title defense against Faber. Aldo went to work early and often, destroying the UC Davis wrestler's leg. In addition to turning his leg a disturbing shade of purple, he took all the power off of Faber's takedowns and power punches.
Aldo is also very dangerous with high kicks. He throws them very quickly, but often lands with the foot, which takes off some power. "Junior" can throw standard round house kicks high but will also mix in front kicks. Additionally, Aldo's head kicks make his low kicks more difficult to catch, as Aldo will go high the second his opponent starts trying to catch his leg kicks.
Aldo's most devastating tool might just be his brutal knees. He's able to throw jumping knees at the drop of a dime and times them better than anyone else in the sport. This is partially due to his range control, as he keeps his opponent too far away to land solid punches or shoot effective double legs. When they attack too far out, Aldo can react quickly enough to capitalize.
There isn't a better example of the amount of distance Aldo can cover with his knees than his vicious eight second knockout of Cub Swanson. Swanson is certainly a skilled striker, but Aldo destroyed him. Swanson covered up when Aldo advanced towards him, as he often does when he begins to throw a punch, but Aldo responded by leaping forward with a double flying knee.
Two very important parts of Aldo's striking are his feinting and range control. Aldo's such a powerful striker that he forces his opponents to be cautious, as they can't afford to get hit too often. However, this makes Aldo's feints much more effective, since his opponent is more likely to react. This in turn allows Aldo to land strikes off of his feints.
Aldo is rarely out of his comfort zone. He is constantly fighting just out of range of takedowns and power punches, where he can land his devastating kicks. As his kicks begin to take effect, he'll move in with power punches of his own. On the off chance that his opponent does manage to force a grappling exchange, Aldo is just as capable of crushing them with knees.
Finally, Aldo isn't an easy fighter to hit, at least while he's fresh. He's quite good at slipping punches, especially when he chooses to stand in the pocket and box.
Aldo might not be a collegiate wrestler, but he has the skills of one. Head Nova Uniao coach, Andre Pederneiras, has done a phenomenal job teaching his students how to wrestle, and Aldo is the biggest example of this. In his career, Aldo has faced one of the best MMA wrestlers ever (Edgar), one of the most credentialed wrestlers in the UFC (Mendes), and jiu-jitsu black belts (Florian, Brown), but none have had any success taking and keeping him down.
It's hard to qualify how good Aldo's offensive takedowns are, simply because he doesn't use them very often. He did briefly take down Mike Brown, but his wrestling game was at its most effective against Mark Hominick. Aldo was suffering from a poor weight cut, so he decided to implement his wrestling game instead of standing with the Canadian. When he did take Hominick down, he preferred to use a running double leg.
What's more important for Aldo's game is his takedown defense. Aldo's sprawl and hips are incredibly dynamic, which makes him very difficult to hold onto. Aldo's favorite way to stuff takedowns is to push the head towards the mat and turn away, often before his opponent even has the takedown fully sunk in.
Additionally, Aldo is incredibly hard to hold down once he's brought to the mat. He's like a spring, able to blast up when given even the slightest amount of space.
The factor that really elevates Aldo's takedown defense to the next level is his ability to damage fighters while they are trying to take him down. Whenever a fighter shoots in for a double or single, Aldo quickly attacks with hammer fists and often leaves them in a vulnerable position. As they try to return to their stance, Aldo will attack with hard punches and kicks. In addition to making the current takedown attempt more difficult to finish, this discourages future attempts.
Since shooting in from afar on Aldo is destined to fail, many fighters have looked to clinch the Brazilian and grind him into the fence. Notably, Kenny Florian tried this strategy early in the fight, and Chad Mendes was actually doing fairly well with it before the finish.
However, Aldo is an expert at landing hard strikes as his opponent tries to work trips from the clinch. He only needs a small amount of space to land nasty knees to the body, which is very exhausting. Completing takedowns while trying to breath isn't easy, and these strikes often give Aldo the opportunity to escape the clinch.
Recently, Aldo finished Mendes spectacularly after he broke free of the clinch. While hipping out and fighting the hands, Aldo was able to break Mendes' grip. However, he didn't just return to the center of the Octagon, he hung onto one of Mendes' wrists. Yanking his arm down, he pulled "Money's" face into his knee for a first round finish.
A Nova Uniao-trained black belt, Aldo rarely showcases his jiu-jitsu game because of his impressive takedown defense. However, before his MMA career, Aldo was a well-regarded jiu-jitsu prospect and had medaled in the Mundials.
The only recent example of his jiu-jitsu game was against Hominick. Early in the fight, he was able to control Hominick and prevent any submission attempts, while occasionally passing his guard. Later in the fight, when Aldo was seriously fatigued, Hominick was able to batter Aldo from within his guard. Even though Aldo was tired, he did manage to maintain his guard, which shows some skill.
It's unfortunate that we haven't been able to see more of Aldo's jiu-jitsu game in the Octagon. The only time he relies on it is when he is in danger, which isn't very often.
Best chance for success
Aldo has a lot of options in this fight, but the easiest way to win would be to punish Jung's leg as often as possible. Jung rarely, if ever, catches leg kicks, preferring to try and catch or counter them. Edgar couldn't capitalize on occasionally catching Aldo's kicks, so it's unlikely that Jung will be able to.
Once Jung is starting to limp, Aldo can close in with his powerful punches. Jung is quite hittable when he's on the defensive, so if Aldo can turn the tables and pressure him, it would be very beneficial. If Aldo can repeatedly land big shots on a sore Jung, it's only a matter of time before he finishes.
Aldo should do his best to stay away from the fence, as Jung is very good at unleashing combos when his opponent is trapped. Roop was able to effectively circle while delivering punishing shots, so Aldo should be able to do the same.
Will Aldo once again prove he's one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world or will Jung become the first Asian champion in UFC history?
Tell the world what you think of Jose Aldo vs. Chan Sung Jung -- or any other fight on the UFC 163 card for that matter -- in the comments section below. And for a closer look and "Complete Fighter Breakdown" of Jung be sure to click here.