José Aldo da Silva Oliveira Júnior, or as he is more often presented, Jose Aldo Jr, The King of Rio, or Scarface. As the nickname suggests, he is originally from Rio De Janerio. Growing up in the Favelas, he earned the mean scar down his cheek by being dropped onto a Barbecue as a child. As a young boy growing up in Brazil, he had the same dream as most young Brazilians, to emulate the success of Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho. This all changed when he decided to join local Capoeira classes to learn basic Self-Defense.
This drew Aldo to BJJ when he was aged 17. At that instance, he decided to pursuit MMA full-time. At that same age, he won his first fight with a 13-second KO. Little did he know, he was about to embark on a Hall of Fame level career. He first bounced from different promotions until finding a short term home at WEC.
Joining WEC, Aldo stormed the promotion. He went on a 5-fight win streak where he finished all of his opponents. That led him to a title shot vs now ATT coach, Mike Brown. Aldo dominated the fight from start-to-finish, earning a TKO in the second round. As impressive as this was, he still had to face WEC’s golden boy, Urijah Faber. This was to be the real test for Aldo, as Faber had previously dominated the WEC Featherweight division.
This was one of the first fights we got to witness the soon-to-be-famous leg kicks. Aldo battered the California native with repetitive leg kicks, leaving Urijah almost unable to stand entirely by the end of the 5th. Strolling to victory against Faber was the moment people stopped questioning how good Aldo actually was, and started questioning how far he would go. There would be one more defence in WEC before the King of Rio became the King of the UFC.
The UFC brought Aldo over as the inaugural Featherweight Champion of the UFC. This was only just the beginning of a star-studded career and a truly top 5 GOAT conversation career. He ran through the division, including Mendes twice, before falling to Mcgregor, Holloway x2, and then later on Volkonovski and the controversial Marlon Moraes fight. These losses, all to champions/title contenders, go a long way to show the skill of Aldo, even in the latter part of his career.
Jose Aldo’s most famous wins include Mendes x2, Frankie Edgar x2, Ricardo Lamas, Kenny Florian, and The Korean Zombie; A frightening list of wins.
So, without beating around the bush too much, Aldo has 2 main weapons. His leg kicks, and his Boxing. Both are potentially the best in his division, with his leg kicks being in my opinion, the best we have ever witnessed inside the UFC octagon. Other famous leg kickers include Justin Gaethje, Benson Henderson, Edson Barboza. All brilliant, but none have the setups like of Aldo.
Versus Faber, the kicks were thrown whenever Faber circled to his left or stayed still. He started the fight circling to his right, away from Aldo’s rear leg. As the fight went on, every time he would circle into the rear leg or stand still, Aldo would throw the leg kick.
Notice the massive sidestep from Aldo before throwing. Faber was trying to time the kicks to check them, so Aldo takes the check out of the equation by sidestepping into the pocket and coming at the back of the knee rather than shin.
In this clip, Faber is using the same teep feints to try to deter Aldo. Instead, Aldo times the teep and kicks the standing leg, therefore making it literally impossible to check it. It’s a trick used by good kickers, not to just throw a leg kick to fill up the so-called bank for later on in the fight, it’s about throwing them when your opponent CAN’T check them, and Aldo does that perfectly.
Another perfect example of throwing when it can’t be defended. Aldo times Urijah’s attempted entry with the lead uppercut and cancels it with another nasty leg-kick. Again, due to Urijah leaning forward whilst about to enter, and shifting his weight onto his front leg, Aldo has a free shot at the leg without any worries of a checked kick. This sort of timing/efficiency, along with the sheer power and ferocity of these kicks, is what makes them some of the best, if not the best ever.
Above is another example of a fighter entering the pocket only to be met with a thundering leg kick. Aldo and leg kicks are synonymous with each other. As well as timing the kicks for an entering opponent, Aldo also likes to do a switch and throw it when backing someone up.
Here, we have Aldo lunging in with a left uppercut to the body(one of his favorites), and throwing the leg kick as Hominick backs up, yet again, making it impossible to defend. It’s almost genius the way Aldo can time and counter with leg kicks. Truly the greatest leg kicks in MMA history.
The other quality of Jose Aldo that makes him superior, is the boxing. He has some of the best pure boxing fundamentals in the whole of MMA. All punches are thrown with picture-perfect technique and frightening speed and accuracy. Another thing to notice with Aldo, when he slips a punch, he keeps the guard up at all times.
Here we have Aldo slipping the double jab and right cross from Hominick, followed by his own 1-2. This Tyson-Esque head movement from Aldo is a joy to behold in MMA. It’s not something often seen in MMA to this level.
Here we have Aldo, throwing his jab, but instead of a follow-up shot, or even admiring it, it’s followed almost immediately with a slip, expecting the return Jab. This isn’t anything incredible but it helps show the defensive awareness from Aldo. There’s never a punch thrown without a defense planned in his mind. Whether that be a slip, a leg kick, lead body uppercut, anything. Aldo always has a defensive structure to every engagement.
Here Aldo slips the straight, follow up with a left hook of his own. Notice the right hand of Aldo. He is throwing a check left hook, however, keeps his right hand raised, to avoid the incoming left hook. This defensive astuteness, along with offensive boxing and leg work is why Aldo is so revered on the feet. This is all followed by world-class BJJ, not that we ever see him grapple.
Takedown Defense/Defensive Grappling
Jose Aldo Jr has world-class grappling, but it’s an aspect of his game we rarely get to see him display. He is one of the best anti-wrestlers in the world. This doesn’t just come from a reluctance to go to the ground, it’s all about the technique.
In the gif above, Edgar charges Aldo, with the hands almost locked. A situation Edgar takes down almost everyone else in the roster with, although Aldo is able to shift his weight and spin Edgar, so rather than having his back to the fence and try to defend the takedown, he swivels with Edgar and secures an under hook, allowing him to circle out and exit.
Above is another Edgar takedown attempt, although this time Aldo is able to turn out of the takedown, meaning Edgar can’t get in as close as the hips, whilst almost pushing Edgar away with the lead leg Edgar was reaching for.
Whilst brilliant at avoiding the grappling, Aldo has been taken down, however, he also has the uncanny balance and ability to get back up every time. Here, Edgar takes the single-leg, although Aldo slips out, keeps his balance, and escapes with relative ease. Again, all part of what makes the King of Rio great.
How Good is Jose Aldo Jr?
Jose Aldo Jr is the greatest featherweight ever. Not Max Holloway, not Conor Mcgregor, but Jose Aldo. 10 years undefeated, 6 years as WEC/UFC champion, Mendes x2, Edgar x2, TKZ, a literal killers list. In the all-time debate, I think Jose Aldo is the 3rd greatest fighter of all time. Behind Demetrius Johnson and Georges St.Pierre. I have Jones and Silva behind Aldo, as I feel the drug testing issues do take away from it. I also believe 145lb is a much tougher division than Middleweight/Light-Heavy.
So there we have it, folks. My verdict, Jose Aldo is the 3rd greatest MMA fighter to ever walk the planet. Thoughts?
Follow me on Twitter @CameronwMMA news and discussions. Also, make sure to follow @OT_Heroics for all of your sporting needs. And don’t forget @MMA_OTH for all things MMA.
Come discuss this and much more at the Overtime Heroics forums!