Written by Sean Ross Sapp
What Jose Aldo has accomplished is nothing short of amazing. Unbeaten in the past four years, and never beaten at featherweight, where he has defended his title an outstanding seven times. That being said, is Jose Aldo one of the top 5 fighters of all time?
Now, before you click the little ‘X’ at the top of your screen, and go find me on twitter (I’ll make it easy for you, it’s @SeanRossSappMMA) and flip out on me, hear me out. I fully understand, that without debate, Anderson Silva, Georges St-Pierre, Fedor, and Jon Jones belong in that top 5. To say otherwise is biased, and likely just wrong. That fifth spot, however, much more foggy. I’m not taking the leap and saying Aldo belongs in the number 5 slot all-time, but I’ll certainly explore the idea
Matt Hughes, Dan Henderson, Wanderlei Silva, Randy Couture, BJ Penn, Rampage Jackson, Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera. All of these men belong in that discussion. What Jose Aldo has that these men don’t, is a nearly pristine record, and a totally dominant title run.
Many of the aforementioned names spent time jumping in between weight divisions, superfights, and the like. While Aldo hasn’t jumped between weight classes for a super fight (as of yet, which he plans on doing), he has defeated bantamweight title contender Urijah Faber, as well as lightweight legends Kenny Florian and Frank Edgar. Meanwhile, Chad Mendes, when not facing Aldo, has looked totally unstoppable in the UFC featherweight division.
Jose Aldo’s unbeaten streak is tiptoeing around the length in which Fedor’s streak ran, as well. While the featherweight division was once shallow, Aldo has consistently faced the most suitable opponent in the division, and also consistently dominated. Sustained success is the difference between Aldo and the likes of Couture, Penn and Henderson. Couture and Penn had trouble piecing together more than two victories in a row in the UFC, and may have hurt their legacy by jumping between weight classes.
While most of the losses Hughes and Silva sustained were at the end of their careers, Jose Aldo hasn’t come anywhere near the twilight of his career. You can only base a level of greatness on what has been presented, and Aldo has yet to hit his 30’s. Hughes and Silva also had outstanding streaks of success, but weren’t always facing and defeating top 10 fighters, as Aldo is and has been over the past 4-5 years.
Minotauro Nogueira is a tough name to bounce out of the top 5 all-time. While again, currently in the twilight of his career, he’s never dropped two fights in a row, and defeated six men who were or would become UFC champions and tournament winners. Couple that with his success in Japan, and victories over the likes of CroCop in his prime, it may be too soon to put Jose Aldo ahead of Big Nog.
In no way am I disrespecting the legacy of any of the fighters I’ve mentioned. Absence does make the heart grow fonder, but as MMA evolves, I also feel as if the achievements that are reached by the current crop of elite fighters are much more impressive. Jose Aldo isn’t competing and destroying nearly everyone who stands in front of him in the world’s top MMA promotion, with no signs of slowing down
Will Jose Aldo eventually be among the top 5, if he isn’t now? It seems as if the next year will be very telling. A potential move to Lightweight could solidify Aldo, and totally end the debate. With Ricardo Lamas and Cub Swanson licking their chops for a shot at the champion, Aldo could also make his current featherweight title defense record reach an unmatchable number. However, if Aldo stays on his current track, there will be no denying his place in history alongside the other all-time bests.
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