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Hail to the Pound-for-Pound King, José Aldo

Hail to the Pound-for-Pound King, José Aldo

With Anderson Silva’s recent slip of the face at UFC 162, MMA fans and media had to find a new number one for our respective “pound-for-pound” rankings.

There’s some disagreement about what a pound-for-pound champion is, but the title generally reward, simply, the best fighter in the world. Sound simple enough?

Not the fighter most dominant, who has cleaned his/her weight class out the most clearly – that could skew toward their quality of opposition.  Nor is it the guy/gal who can beat everyone else – size and strength will come into play too much. We’re not doing away with weight classes here; we’re crowning a fictitious champion.

The number one pound-for-pound fighter in the world should be, simply, the one you walk away from the most impressed with.  Whose combination of skill and athleticism puts them on top?

There’s one choice. He’s all over the place: in the Countdown shows, on the cover of UFC Magazine and Sports Illustrated, grinning here and mimicking Muhammad Ali there. He scored his ninth straight victory by T/KO over Chael Sonnen back in April, and faces Alexander Gustafson in September.

Yes, of course I mean Jon Jones. He’s one choice.

But, to me, he’s the wrong choice. Nope. The true king is José Aldo. Here’s why.

Sure Jones shows scintillating offense and spectacular athleticism. But Aldo matches him in this observer’s opinion, knee for flying knee. And hey, what about defense? No one seems to get him in any trouble. Frankie Edgar may have an edged a round from Aldo back in February, maybe two, but he was never really in trouble. Look back from the last couple of years – anything possibly fight-ending, like the armbar scare that Jones suffered against Vitor Belfort? Nope.

The hype would lead you to believe that Jones hasn’t really lost as a professional, just a DQ in a fight he was winning against Matt Hammil back in 2009. Hey, I’ll concede this one — that fight isn’t terribly relevant. But some of the same folks will try and argue some relevance to Aldo’s loss to a then-solid fighter in Luciano Azevedo back in 2005. Here’s the problem with that logic – Jones hadn’t even begun his career back in 2005. The truth is that neither loss means a thing today.

Sure, Jones comes from a great camp in Greg Jackson MMA, but has everyone forgotten what a run Aldo’s Nova União is having? Aldo’s teammate Renan Barao hasn’t lost in 30 bouts now, en route to the interim bantamweight title. Last week, Aldo’s teammate Cláudia Gadelha continued her undefeated pro career with an upset victory over Ayaka Hamasaki at Invicta FC 6. (You know how Bellator MMA: Fight Master is giving us a chance to hear big name coaches interact in scouting out talent, and arguing how they’d match up? I’d love to hear Nova União leader Andre Pedernairas in that setting.)

Sure, both guys are great and it may even be unpopular — but I’m ranking Aldo number one. I’d need to see something new from Jones in September or from Aldo next month to think differently.

In the meantime, in addition to 15 straight victories and a featherweight title, José Aldo has earned a pound-for-pound crown.

At least, from me. With his UFC 163 bout against The Korean Zombie looming, let’s just hope I didn’t jinx him.

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