Sunday, October 3, 2010

Number one featherweight or fighter in the world?


In the most recent issue of 'Fighter's Only' magazine, the Chuck Liddell Collector's issue, I was fortunate enough to be asked my opinion on five MMA related questions. One of the questions posed to me was who would I pick as "Fighter of the year" for the period running from September 1, 2009-August 31, 2010. Without hesitation, my response was Jose Aldo.

Aldo, (18-1, 12 KO's 2 subs), is the WEC featherweight (145 lbs.) champion of the world and currently the poster boy for the organization; the word boy seems quite appropriate since Aldo just turned a mere 24 years old three weeks ago. His onslaught in the WEC has been nothing short of sensational, which begs the question, is he just the number one featherweight in the world or the number one fighter?

Now I know a question like this is going to create quite a stir, especially among Georges St. Pierre and Anderson Silva fans; but before you go blowing a gasket and calling me crazy, among other things, hear me out. Although, I recently had an educated debate with Gorgeous George, host of MMA Junkie Radio, who had a strong argument that Aldo may not even be fighter of the year.

Currently (8-0) in the WEC, Aldo has won all but one of those fights by quick devastating KO finishes. The one fight that did go the distance was in his first title defense against former featherweight kingpin and fan favorite Urijah Faber. In that fight, it was only Faber's heart that kept him from being finished as Aldo completely decimated and dominated 'The California Kid'. The fight was so one-sided, one could argue it is what forced Faber to drop a weight class to bantamweight (135lbs.).

As for why I call him 'Fighter of the year'? While he may have only had two fights in the time frame I indicated above, they were two huge fights on a big stage. Last November, in his quest to win the title, he faced former champion Mike Brown. Brown had been coming off a ten fight win streak, including two wins against Faber along with wins over top ten contenders Leonard 'Bad Boy' Garcia and Jeff 'Big Frog' Curran. Aldo, made quick work of Brown, with one of those fast KO finishes early in the second round.

Up next, Faber in April 2010 and the demolition I referenced above and all this for a kid who was only 23 years old at the time. As for number one fighter in the world? Those two fights were sandwiched by an eight-second destruction of formidable Cub Swanson via a flying knee in June 2009. Also, a second title defense just this past week where he crushed number one contender Manny 'The Anvil' Gamburyan with an anvil type uppercut of his own in the second round.

Now look at the last four fights for the other two supposed best pound for pound fighters in the world, St. Pierre and Silva. St. Pierre, UFC welterweight (170lbs.) champion has had three decision wins and the one fight that he did end was a fourth round TKO corner stoppage against a lightweight (155lbs.) champion, BJ Penn. As for Silva, UFC middleweight (185 lbs.) champion, he's had two decision wins; both of which were horribly boring performances against Thales Leites and Demian Maia.

Also, he recently defeated Chael Sonnen with a fight saving submission with less than two minutes to go in the fight. It was fight saving because he was clearly losing for all but those last two minutes. (It should be noted, Sonnen has since been found guilty of using performance-enhancing drugs). To his credit, he did destroy former light-heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin @ 205 lbs. in the first round via KO.

However, as Goze, co-host/producer of MMA Junkie Radio, so aptly put it, "when you compare what Aldo is doing in his fights to the other champions, it's hard not to say he's the best right now." I agree and ironically he comes from the same camp, Blackhouse MMA, that produces Anderson Silva, so you know the sky's the limit for this kid. Therefore, when you look at the body of work (sheer dominance), I ask, is this just the number one featherweight or fighter in the world?

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