Cagewriter

Aldo has much to prove before he’s mentioned with the elite

Steve Cofield
Cagewriter

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HOUSTON - Featherweight champ Jose Aldo was an unstoppable force on his way up through the WEC. Now that Aldo has arrived in the UFC, and he isn't running through opponents anymore, you have to ask - did many in the media and some fans push Aldo into MMA's top five pound-for-pound rankings too quickly? It looks like it.

With the addition of new fighters from around the world and some former lightweights dropping down to featherweight, Aldo (20-1-1, 2-0 UFC) has a lot to get done before he should be legitimately mentioned amongst the elite of the elite.

"No way (has he cleaned out the division). That's why when they talk about him being top three pound-for-pound ... it's like, he's got a lot of work to do," Dana White said.

Kenny Florian made that obvious on Saturday night. Aldo was far from his super-aggressive self. He won the fight, but Florian made him battle for 25 minutes to get a unanimous decision, 49-46 on all three cards. Yahoo! Sports' lead MMA Writer Kevin Iole actually scored the fight 48-47 for Florian. Several others along press row in Houston had it 48-47 for Aldo.

"When you get into a fight with a guy like Kenny, a big, strong guy who's pushing you against the cage, you're in there trying to get out. It's one thing if you're in there going guns-a-blazing like when Urijah Faber and Aldo fought ... they went at it. That's not what you saw tonight," said Dana White, sounding less than impressed.

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Aldo admitted that he fought with a conservative approach.

"I had to pace it a little bit in this fight. I knew if I was too explosive that Kenny could end up beating me. So I had to pace it. I couldn't really be as explosive as I wanted to be. And everybody was kind of telling me to hold back so I just kept it cool and studied the fight," Aldo said, not looking overly pleased with the W.

The champ defended take down attempts extremely well, thwarting 19-of-20 tries (Compustrike said it was 12-of-14) from Florian. But the Brazilian's lethal kicking game never got going and according to FightMetric, he was actually outlanded 69-66 over the course of five rounds. Those are hardly the numbers you'd expect from a guy being mentioned with the likes of Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre.{ysp:more}

On top of that, Aldo (20-1-1, 2-0 UFC) wasn't exactly facing a young gun or a guy on the upswing. Frankly, Florian is probably on the other side as far his career goes. He spends an awful lot of time with his side gig, as a television analyst with ESPN and he's now 35 years old. Following the loss, there were even rumors swirling that he was going to announce his retirement.

At UFC 129, Mark Hominick was beat up early against Aldo, but came on strong later in the fight to take the champ the distance as well. There were also moments where Hominick clearly outstruck the champ.

A closer examination of Aldo's previous victims in the WEC and you start to question the quality of his victories. He took the WEC title from Mike Brown in 2009. Brown is just 3-3 since.

Faber lost Aldo as well at 145, but now he's down at 135, his natural weight. Aldo's victories before that were against pretty non-descript fighters in the WEC.

This isn't a hatchet job on Aldo, but he is just 25 years old and needs to accomplish a lot to reach GSP and Silva heights. St-Pierre has won nine straight fights since 2007. Over that time, he's also won roughly 34-of-36 rounds. Silva's been even more impressive with 15 straight wins, 13 of them via some sort of finish.

Aldo's going to get Chad Mendes next and then a whole new wave of contenders from inside and otuside the promotion. Maybe these two decision victories will launch him to new level of dedication and Aldo can legitimately take the pound-for-pound crown from GSP and Silva, just give him a few years.

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