Jose Aldo has proven himself to be one of the UFC's best pound-for-pound fighters in the world, but he may have finally met his match in former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar.
Going back to his days in WEC, Aldo has been a dominant champion since taking the belt from Mike Brown in 2009. His combination of athleticism and technique have made him nearly unbeatable. Throughout his reign as champion he's beaten the likes of Urijah Faber, Kenny Florian and Chad Mendes.
With a 14-fight win streak and five title defenses to his name, Aldo has earned his aura of invincibility.
However, his opponent for UFC 156 will be the most difficult challenge of his career. Edgar is one of the few fighters that have the tools to exploit the few holes that Aldo has in his game. Here's why fans are in for a tremendous title fight Saturday night.
Edgar uses his boxing as well as anyone in the UFC. His ability to effectively maintain space and score points with his jab and combinations is one of the things that sets him apart from his opponents.
One of the few areas that Aldo has shown a lack of elite skills is in the boxing department. While Aldo offsets this deficiency with the nastiest leg kicks in the sport and explosive one-strike ability, Edgar holds the advantage when it comes to boxing.
Aldo is accustomed to controlling things on the feet, but with Edgar's footwork and technical boxing skills he could be in the unfamiliar position of being outpointed on the feet.
Wrestling and Cardio
If Edgar were to depend on his boxing alone to beat Aldo, he would wind up looking an awful lot like Mark Hominick in his title fight against the reigning champ. It will take a well-rounded fighter to upset Aldo.
Fortunately for Edgar, he has those skills. His wrestling and cardio will be his calling card if he is successful against Aldo.
Aldo has taken on strong wrestlers before—Chad Mendes and Kenny Florian are both accomplished grapplers that have dominated opponents on the ground. However, Mendes didn't have the stand up to set up a good take down, and Florian didn't have the cardio at 145 to really threaten Aldo as the fight wore on.
Edgar has shown throughout his career that he has elite wrestling and cardio. Aldo's top-level takedown defense will neutralize Edgar's wrestling to some extent, but he has the cardio to keep the pressure going for the duration of the fight.
It's cliché, but Edgar's heart can't be underestimated. As an undersized lightweight, he's used to playing the role of underdog and won't back down from the best fighters in the world.
Aldo has the reputation of a destroyer of men, and that can definitely factor into a fighter's psyche. Much like middleweight champion Anderson Silva, he wins many of his fights before his opponent even steps into the Octagon.
After unseating longtime lightweight champion B.J. Penn, there's no way that Edgar will be psyched out by taking on a champion like Aldo.
Defeating Aldo will be a tall order, but if there's anyone that will have the attitude and skill set to pull it off, it's Frankie Edgar.