Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight champion Jose Aldo put his belt on the line against Ricardo Lamas in the co-main event of last night's (Feb. 1, 2014) UFC 169 from Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
Aldo came into the bout on an impressive 16-fight mixed martial arts (MMA) win streak that included five straight title defenses. He was last seen finishing Chan Sung Jung in the main event of UFC 163 after "Korean Zombie" separated his shoulder on the fourth round.
"Junior" was looking to clear out his division by defeating Lamas, the last man he had left to beat in the featherweight Top Five.
No. 2-ranked Lamas had a four-fight win streak of his own before UFC 169, but he hadn't been seen since blasting Erik Koch back at UFC on FOX 6 in Jan. 2013. He had the opportunity of a lifetime against living legend Aldo, but ultimately he failed like so many had before him.
It was another one-sided victory for Aldo, who, despite fading a bit at the end, battered Lamas on his way to another solid performance. Let's take a look back at Aldo's win in Newark (watch full fight video highlights here).
The fight kicked off with Aldo taking the center of the Octagon. He landed a couple solid punches but was largely taking his time to get started. Lamas went for a stabbing body kick and continued to back up. Aldo landed a sharp punch-kick combo to the delight of the crowd. He threw a spinning back kick and caught a Lamas kick attempt. "Junior" backed up his opponent and threw hard shots to the body. Lamas was very noncommittal with his offense as a very one-sided frame ended in Aldo's favor.
In the second, Aldo controlled the pace once again, backing up Lamas with one of his trademark leg kicks. Aldo worked "Bully's" body and followed with another big right hand. Aldo was picking up the pace with his leg and body kicks, battering Lamas' lead leg. Lamas was hurt, but fought on despite being thoroughly outmatched.
Aldo continued to work his leg kicks in the third, peppering Lamas repeatedly. "Bully" finally went for a takedown, but missed and ate another leg kick. Lamas was throwing high kicks that didn't quite find a mark. Aldo scored a huge body blow to leg kick combo. Lamas absorbed a ton of damage yet he was still throwing shots to survive into the championship rounds.
The fourth round saw Lamas go for an early single leg, picking up Aldo high against the fence. He couldn't complete it and Aldo reversed to control Lamas on the cage. The crowd grew restless as Aldo gained top control on the ground and landed some elbows. "Junior" got the mount and then got Lamas' back, locking on a rear naked choke. Lamas escaped effectively and went for another failed takedown as the round wore down.
When the final frame began, Aldo looked fresher than he had in previous fifth rounds. Lamas came out with a sense of urgency, throwing some sharp body kicks. Aldo neutralized the offense with a very nice bodylock takedown. He mounted Lamas, but "Bully" reversed to finally gain an advantageous position. Lamas rained big punches and elbows to clearly take the final frame, but it was too little, too late.
Earning a unanimous decision win, Aldo has now beaten the top five contenders in his division. At the UFC 169 post-fight press conference, talk of Aldo moving up to 155 pounds to face UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis heated up. Aldo said he would take the fight, to which the still-injured Pettis quickly called White to accept. That's a fight a long time in the making, but "Showtime" has to heal up from his knee surgery before it can become a reality.
Lamas looked lackluster in getting away from the wrestling that got him there. When he finally was able to take down Aldo in the fifth round, he found his greatest success. That may have been in part to Aldo tiring in the final frame, but Lamas admitted that he got caught up in proving that he could stand with him. Lamas is a game competitor, so the fact that he was shut down is simply a testament to Aldo's sheer dominance.
Lamas will return to the drawing board against a Top 10 opponent. A fight against "Korean Zombie" definitely makes sense somewhere down the road, as the two have unfinished business after their proposed UFC 162 bout fell apart. "Bully" will be back in the game in no time. He's elite. There is just no one who's on Aldo's level at featherweight right now.
Jose Aldo notched a sixth straight title defense at UFC 169 by putting on a striking clinic against Ricardo Lamas. "Junior" has cleaned out the 145-pound division. Will his long-rumored move up to lightweight finally be at hand?