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UFC 179 complete fighter breakdown, Jose 'Junior' Aldo edition resident fighter analyst Andrew Richardson breaks down the mixed martial arts (MMA) game of UFC 179 headliner Jose Aldo, who takes on Chad Mendes this Saturday (Oct. 25, 2014) inside Ginásio do Maracanãzinho in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) featherweight roost ruler, Jose Aldo, looks to defend his title against Team Alpha Male representative, Chad Mendes, for the second time this Saturday night (Oct. 25, 2014) inside Ginásio do Maracanãzinho in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Outside of the fifth round of his bout with Mark Hominick, Aldo has largely looked unstoppable. A Muay Thai wrecking machine out of Nova Uniao, "Junior" has defended his title six times since joining UFC.

Including a victory over his upcoming opponent.

Still, Aldo faces some criticism. Due to his more conservative approach, some fights fans believe that Aldo has plateaued, or worse, regressed. Of course, Aldo will have a chance to prove those viewers wrong in his sophomore performance against "Money."

Let's take a closer look at the champion's skill set.


In his last couple performances, Aldo has really streamlined his offense. Despite its appearance of simplicity, Aldo's kickboxing game is still quite deadly due to his power, athleticism, and feints.

For the most part, Aldo's boxing game now relies on his jab, straight, and left hook. Aldo smoothly combines these punches in combinations and uses them well to lead his opponent into his devastating leg kicks.

Aldo's jab -- which he debuted against Frankie Edgar -- is used to keep fighters from closing in towards a range in which his opponent can initiate hand fighting or a takedown. Instead, Aldo halts his opponent's forward movement with an authoritative jab to the nose.

Though he didn't have to use the jab much against Ricardo Lamas -- the wrestler inexplicably chose to fight from the kickboxing range for much of the fight -- he attacked with a nice body jab multiple times. One of the more underutilized strikes in mixed martial arts (MMA), the body jab tied in with Aldo's low kicks nicely.

The left hook and right cross are staples of any Thai boxer's arsenal. When Aldo looks to lead, it's usually with one or two of these punches, occasionally mixing in a body blow. Then, a crushing low kick is soon to follow. It's not incredibly complex, but it works damn well.

For example, look at THIS exchange in his bout with Ricardo Lamas. Using just the left hook and right low kick, Aldo punishes his opponent mercilessly. Each time Lamas anticipates the leg kick, he absorbs at least one hook. Then, while covering up under that barrage with his feet planted, he gets blasted with another low kick.

Suddenly, just checking the kick doesn't seem so simple.

Another technique that Aldo used against Lamas to land the leg kick was to wait for "Bully" to kick. When he did, Aldo would check, block, or absorb the kick, and then deliver his own, more powerful low kick while Lamas could not defend.

For the most part, Aldo prefers to counter his opponent's punches rather than lead. Aldo slips punches smoothly, made easier by the fact that many opponents are often forced to reach for him. Then, he'll counter with the left hook, cross, and/or a low kick.

It's worth noting that Aldo doesn't just kick at his opponent's legs. He has a powerful teep, which helps serve a similar purpose to his jab, though Aldo usually aims for his foe's chest. He'll also mix in quick roundhouse kicks to the head and body, which make reaching for his low kick risky.

Finally, Aldo has a number of tools devoted solely to countering wrestlers. His uppercut -- which he rarely mixes into standard boxing combinations -- works wonders against opponent's ducking down from far out or covering up too early.

Aldo also uses knees to catch opponents coming in. He'll often bait a shot by throwing a jab out high and following it up with a brutal knee strike. If his opponent attacks from too far out, there's a decent chance that Aldo will time him with a knee.

Though he's rarely forced into this position, Aldo is quite capable with knees in the clinch. Notably, he clipped Mendes with a knee on the break of a back clinch, capitalizing on the wrestler's rush to maintain position. He also strongly deterred Kenny Florian from pushing for the clinch by landing hard knees to his stomach whenever "Kenflo" pressured him into the fence.


Aldo is perhaps the best wrestler in the UFC that does not have a scholastic wrestling background. Despite facing a litany of credentialed wrestlers and talented takedown artists, Aldo has been able to remain standing for the vast majority of each of his fights.

Offensively, Aldo is an above-average wrestler. He rarely turns to his wrestling unless he's fatigued or injured, like his bouts with Mark Hominick and Chan Sung Jung. In both cases, Aldo relied on a running double leg and often used clinch takedowns against "The Korean Zombie."

It really helps Aldo that most opponents are not expecting takedowns from him. He's such a vicious striker that shooting is normally unnecessary and comes as a surprise. Plus, a reactive double leg is always effective against an opponent looking to close distance, which is a common strategy against Aldo.

More importantly, Aldo's takedown defense is superb. Aldo's hips are very strong, allowing him to sprawl out on all but the best double legs. However, Frankie Edgar and Chad Mendes found a small amount of success by transitioning from the double into back control and working from there.

Attempting to execute a single-leg takedown Aldo is an exercise in futility. Aldo's ability to turn away and limp leg out of his opponent's grip is nothing less than spectacular. His team mate, Renan Barao, is similarly resistant to single leg takedowns.

Aldo's ability to do damage as he defends takedowns is also very important. Whether it's his knees in the clinch or hammer fists while his opponent clings to a leg, Aldo makes it difficult to continue to grapple and transition. When being bombarded by hard shots, focusing on the takedown becomes a struggle. In addition, this damage deters his opponents from shooting in the future, as they're more likely to simply absorb free punches than successfully complete the takedown.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ)

Though he's a Nova Uniao black belt and actually had some hype as a prospect on the jiu-jitsu scene, we rarely see Aldo's jiu-jitsu game. Even when he does drag the fight to the mat, Aldo is not very aggressive with his jiu-jitsu.

From the top, Aldo is defensively sound with his hand position and posture. He's active with his guard passes but little else. When Aldo takes a dominant position, he usually looks to land ground strikes, with his pair of rear naked choke attempts on Lamas as the exception.

Off his back, Aldo is rarely using jiu-jitsu. When he's fresh, Aldo is able to explode back to his feet easily, and thus does not have to play guard. Then if he gets tired and taken down, Aldo is too fatigued to do anything other than close his guard and hold on.

Best chance for success

This is a very dangerous test for Aldo. Not only can Mendes potentially force Aldo to his back, but his improved striking and knockout power make him a serious threat on the feet as well.

To defeat "Money," Aldo has to be very careful with his distance. Through the use of feints, Aldo has to keep Mendes at the edge of his punches. Then, as Mendes is covered up from the punches, an opening for Aldo's low kick will become available.

It might be a good idea for Aldo to use his uppercut a bit more often than he has recently as well. Mendes is the shorter man and will likely be looking to slip Aldo's punches as he moves in, which puts him at risk if "Junior" can time ducking down.

Will Aldo defend his title once more, or can Mendes avenge the sole loss of his professional career?

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