COMMENTARY | The only featherweight champion in the Ultimate Fighting Championship's history, Jose Aldo, will face his toughest test when he collides with Frankie Edgar at UFC 156.
Their title clash is set for Feb. 2, at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nev.
Aldo was originally scheduled to defend his title against Edgar last October at UFC 153, but injuries sustained during a motorcycle accident forced him to pull out of the bout. The Brazilian hasn't been inside the Octagon in over a year, so it's hard to tell if he'll be as sharp as he normally is when he faces Edgar at UFC 156.
While Aldo has been inactive during the past 12 months, Edgar has had two very tough fights, going a total 10 rounds with current lightweight champion, Benson Henderson. Edgar is a technically sharp boxer (at least by MMA standards), and his lightning-quick takedowns might cause some problems for Aldo if he shows any signs of Octagon-rust.
However, Aldo doesn't seem overly concerned about Edgar, and he even thinks the weight cut might negatively affect Frankie's performance at UFC 156.
"One of the biggest challenges for Frankie is going to be making the weight," Aldo said in a UFC 156 promotional video (transcribed by ESPN.co.uk). "The other big challenge he has to deal with is the speed and technique I have in this weight class. … I expect to be champion for many more years. This is the weight where I've found myself."
With a 21-1-0 professional MMA record, with wins against guys like Urijah Faber and Kenny Florian, Aldo has established himself as one of the pound-for-pound best fighters in the sport. His Muay Thai is second only to MMA's pound-for-pound king, Anderson Silva, and his low-kicks are second to none.
As impressive as Aldo's striking is, the Brazilian's ability to stuff takedowns is just as mystifying. Aldo has consistently frustrated the best wrestlers in the division, and on the rare occasion that his back touches the canvas, he's extremely good at getting back to his feet. It's the combination of his laser-sharp striking and his seemingly impregnable takedown defense that has made Aldo such a tough opponent for many.
Edgar will certainly bring his A-game come fight time, considering the fact he'd have to find another way to reinvent himself if he ends up losing to Aldo at UFC 156. After dethroning BJ Penn and holding on to the lightweight title for a couple of years (not to mention his two tightly-contested fights with Henderson), Frankie obviously has no intentions of becoming a gatekeeper in the featherweight division. If he ends up losing to Jose at UFC 156, I wouldn't be surprised if he drops down to the bantamweight division, as it's hard to see Edgar being content without a belt around his waist.
Even though Edgar will be the underdog heading into his encounter against Aldo, "The Answer" doesn't seem intimidated in any way.
"For me this is just what I'm used to. It's my normal role," Edgar said during a conversation with MMAWeekly Radio (transcribed by MMAweekly.com). "I'm going to come here and I'm going to show up for a fight. There's never been a fight I haven't been prepared for and I haven't showed up for, and it's going to be no different come Feb. 2."
Without a doubt, MMA fans will be in for a rare treat when Edgar and Aldo square up inside the Octagon at UFC 156.
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