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A former featherweight champion stopped the ascension of a serious bantamweight contender Saturday night – and may have put himself back in the title mix one more time.
Jose Aldo (31-7 MMA, 13-6 UFC) started slow in the first against Rob Font (19-5 MMA, 9-4 UFC), but turned it up in every other round and won a unanimous decision with a pair of 50-45 scores and a 49-46. The win snapped Font’s four-fight winning streak and was the third straight for Aldo.
The bantamweight bout was the UFC on ESPN 31 main event at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. It aired on ESPN and streamed on ESPN+.
Font took the center early and came right at the former champion. He backed Aldo up with a right hand, then landed a combo. Aldo kicked to the body, but Font still pushed forward. A minute in, an awkward takedown attempt for Font worked, and he tied Aldo up when he popped back to his feet. Font worked for another takedown, but Aldo battled out of it. Font threw and landed the bulk of the offense in the opening frame, and Aldo seemed to be mostly on defense.
But with 12 seconds left, Aldo drilled Font with a right hand that sat him on the canvas. It seemed to come out of nowhere. Aldo pounced and hit him with a couple more good shots before the horn, but he didn’t have enough time to get the finish. Still, the knockdown was enough to win the round for Aldo from two of the judges.
Font went back to his same wheelhouse in the second working jabs and kicks. But two minutes in, once again Aldo showed his power and wobbled Font with a hard right. Font stayed on his feet, though, and continued to work his jab.
A minute into the third, a Font takedown attempt led to Aldo on top looking for a choke. He worked his way to side control, but eventually had to settle back into guard. Font was good defensively and kept Aldo from landing much damage. Font finally got back to his feet with two minutes left. With a minute left, a low kick from Aldo knocked Font right off his feet.
Font came out urgent in the fourth, but Aldo landed a big right hand, then a knee. Soon after, he put Font back on the canvas. He dropped down to side control and landed elbows. Both fighters had eyes that were swollen and seemed to be bothering them. Font struggled to get off his back, even though Aldo was working to pass to mount more than he was delivering offense. Font was good defensively, though, and he recovered to full guard.
Font’s cornermen told him he likely needed a finish in the final round, and he again came out aggressive. Font pushed him to the fence a minute in, and Aldo appeared to be wearing down. Font landed an elbow on the break, but Aldo kept muscling forward. Midway through the final round, Font landed an elbow that seemed to hurt Aldo. But Aldo fired back, wobbled Font and put him on the canvas one more time. With two minutes left, he was on top and in control. Aldo had a chance for a choke finish late, but Font defended it to get to the scorecards.
Up-to-the-minute UFC on ESPN 31 results include:
Jose Aldo def. Rob Font via unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 49-46)