It was arguably the most difficult bout of Jose Aldo’s MMA career, but he still won.

Almost Invincible

The 28-year old Brazilian has looked almost invincible in this impressive run that has made him the UFC’s number two pound for pound fighter today.

Aldo made it seven consecutive title defenses, and nine overall including the first two in the WEC after outpointing number one contender Chand Mendes to retain his UFC Featherweight title. The win was also Aldo’s 18th straight career victory as he has not lost a bout since being submitted by Luciano Azevedo in 2005.

Highly Anticipated Rematch

The five round bout which served as the main event for UFC 179 at the Maracanazinho Gymnasium in Brazil was a rematch of their first championship encounter at UFC 142 in January of 2012. During that bout, Mendes was an undefeated top-ranked challenger whom experts said had the skills to topple the infallible Aldo.

But Aldo quickly ended that fight in controversial fashion for holding on the fence before delivering a fight ending knee to the head with one second left in round one. Mendes took that loss hard and rebounded with five consecutive wins, including four knockouts, to re-appear as the UFC’s top featherweight contender and earn another shot at Aldo in this highly anticipated rematch.

Better Than Ever

Mendes promised to be a much better fighter and he was better than ever. He scored the bout’s first knockdown in the opening minutes of round one, knocking Aldo down with a well-timed left hook that knocked the champion back and down. However, Aldo immediately got up and was able to knock Mendes right back towards the end of the round. Mendes looked like he was in trouble in the closing moments of the first round and Aldo looked to finish him off by beating the clock. Controversy struck as Aldo connected on two punches after the bell rang to end round one that sent Mendes down at the edge of the fence.

Mendes looked fully recovered as round two started and both men resumed their rivalry. Aldo started finding his groove with his laser jabs but kept on taking strong hits from the hard hitting challenger. The third round started with Mendes getting a second and final warning for an eye poke, but it was Aldo again who had the slight advantage with his perfectly timed jabs and body shots.

A Fierce Striking Match

Sensing that he could be behind on points, Mendes went all out in round four and dominated Aldo, who has a reputation of slowing down in the championship rounds. Mendes repeatedly tagged Aldo’s face and caused a cut below his left eye. In the final round, Menes finally took Aldo down but he wasn’t able to do any damage on the mat. Aldo worked his way back to his feet and both men finished the fight in a stand-up, exchanging bombs until the final bell. The fierce striking match saw a total of 270 strikes landed, with Aldo outpointing Mendes 143-127, per Fightmetric stats.

All three judges scored the bout 49-46 in favor of the champion.

Did not Protest

Although Mendes did not protest referee Marc Goddard’s decision not to deduct a point from Aldo, it was obvious that the two punches at the end of round were crucial in the outcome of the bout. Although the one-point deduction would have not mattered in the scoring, Mendes was a different fighter after the first round.

He put less more pressure on Aldo than he did in round one and stood in front of the champion at times, giving Aldo the perfect target for his excellent striking game. Both men showed supreme sportsmanship after the bout, offering each other respect after much trash talking before the fight. Aldo said that they may be rivals inside the cage, but they are friends outside of it. He called it the toughest bout of his career.

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