LAS VEGAS – He had the cool demeanor of Fedor Emelianenko, the explosiveness of Anderson Silva and the power of Chuck Liddell. Jose Aldo has a long way to go before he is considered one of the greats of mixed martial arts, but he began to make his case in a very loud way Wednesday at the Palms Hotel.
He stopped Mike Brown at 1:20 of the second round Wednesday to win the World Extreme Cagefighting's featherweight title and immediately thrust himself into the public consciousness.
Aldo had won five times in the WEC to earn his championship shot against Brown, who had the look of a dominant champion until stepping into the cage with the powerful Brazilian.
Aldo was eerily calm in the cage, but erupted once he had an opportunity. He pinned Brown on the canvas and unloaded a series of punches until referee Steve Mazzagatti stopped it.
WEC general manager Reed Harris referred to him as "Mr. Aldo." Manny Gamburyan, who defeated Leonard Garcia in the co-main event, called him "an incredible fighter." And Brown said Aldo is "a really good athlete."
The bottom line is that many of the world's elite featherweights are going to be calling him "Mister" before much longer if he continues his amazing run. He's now 16-1 overall and has won six in a row by stoppage.
WEC matchmakers were scratching their heads, trying to figure who would match well with Aldo. Right now, there doesn't figure to be a long line of guys begging for the opportunity.
Aldo is a black belt in jiu-jitsu, but he's an exceptionally proficient striker and has lethal knees. Brown, an accomplished wrestler, was reticent to go for the double leg takedown because he was wary of Aldo's knees.
But he wasn't able to stand and trade with Aldo and when they moved against the cage, Aldo was able to outgrapple him. It didn't leave Brown with a lot of options.
"When you fight him, you better have your 'A' game on and I didn't have my 'A' game on," Brown said.
Aldo won a solid first round, but didn't land any of the lethal strikes that have made him the WEC's equivalent of Anderson Silva. He did enough, though, to let Brown known he was in for a long night.
The finish came in an instant, as Brown, with his eye cut and his nose bleeding, found himself suddenly on the ground. Aldo pinned his arms down and ripped Brown with 20 to 30 punches before Mazzagatti pulled him off.
"I don't remember exactly what happened," said Aldo, who planted a kiss on Harris' forehead after the fight. "At some point, he was against the fence and he fell off-balance. I ran over and went to mount and took his back. I just started hitting him from there."
Brown had no complaint with the stoppage, though he said he wasn't hurt. He said he was caught in a bad position and noted, "I wasn't getting out anytime soon."
One of the great things about MMA is that because there are so many ways to win, and lose, the unexpected frequently occurs.
If Aldo doesn't lose his focus, it's going to be a long time before he gets beat.
Harris, the WEC co-founder, knows he's found a budding superstar in Aldo. But he's also been around long enough to know how quickly things can change in MMA.
As 2009 dawned, Brown held the featherweight title and Miguel Torres was the bantamweight champion and Harris was confident they'd hang on to their belts for a while.
Torres lost his title to Brian Bowles in August and then Brown lost it on Wednesday.
But it's going to take someone extremely good to beat this guy.
"He's the champion and all champions have a way of losing," said Gamburyan, who is among those who will be considered for the first shot at Aldo. "But he's for real, that's for sure."