The UFC 163 event came to us from Brazil last night, and featured a few surprises and a coronation. The main event between UFC Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo and challenger Chan Sung Jung lasted into the fourth round, as predictably the ‘Korean Zombie’ came to leave it all in the ring, but at the end it was Aldo who retained his belt with another dominant win. The co-main event saw Light Heavyweight Phil Davis win over Lyoto Machida, becoming one of the first foreign headliners to pull off a win in Brazil against a Brazilian, and that he did so in a squeaker of a fight is in many ways all the more impressive. For Aldo, this win marks his fifth title defense, and with the fall of Anderson Silva, these leave Aldo as the top Brazilian fighter on the pound for pound lists. Aldo won the first three rounds despite injuring his foot in the early going, and he finished in the fourth round when the Zombie hurt his shoulder and Aldo closed in for the kill. Afterwards, Aldo stated ‘It wasn’t the best way, but I won the fight’ with regards to the Zombie’s dislocated shoulder, but he did show the killer instinct and aggressiveness despite being hurt himself.
For Aldo, what is next is anybody’s guess. The featherweight division has a lot of talent, and both Cub Swanson and Chad Mendes have shown a lot of development and have arguments for a title shot. Then there is the case of Ricardo Lamas, who was scheduled to fight the Korean Zombie, but had his fight unceremoniously cancelled so that the lower ranked Zombie could move into the title shot. Lamas may emerge as the best next fight for Aldo in the weight class, as he is ranked #2 behind Mendes, and his match with Aldo would not be a rematch like the Mendes match would. Aldo could also head to the lightweight division, where he would face new challenges against bigger men. Another reason to like Aldo is that he seems focused on being great, and writing a long legacy. At 155lbs, do not expect it to happen right away, but the showdown with Anthony Pettis that was originally scheduled for this event would be back on the table. It gets confusing if Pettis wins his next match which is for the title, but Aldo could definitely make a better case for a title shot at lightweight than many other fighters who have been given a similar shot, so anything can happen. Aldo’s future is bright and wide open! For Davis, he deserves credit but things are going to get more difficult for him on his way to a title shot. In Machida, he has earned a solid win for his resume, but he will need to keep it going. Machida can be compared to boxer Andre Ward in some ways, and it was illustrated in last night’s fight. Ward is the last American to win a gold medal, is an undefeated multi champion as a pro boxer and is in the top 3 of every pound for pound list of boxers out there. Though not as decorated, Machida is as complete and dangerous a Light Heavyweight as they come. What they have in common however is an inability to excite a crowd. In front of a mass audience, Machida just doesnt get anyone excited, and though an argument could be mounted that he won the fight last night, he didn’t get the judges excited either.
So Davis will take the win, but things will only get harder from here. Despite Machida’s status as the number 1 ranked guy in the division, it is way too early for Davis to start thinking title shot. Putting Davis in a match with Alexander Gustafsson (who would be coming of a loss to Jon Jones if the predictable scenario plays out) or Glover Teixeira (who would be coming off a win against Ryan Bader) in his next match would prove a significant challenge for Davis, who is ranked ahead of both men. Teixeira and Gustafsson bring games that are dangerous, and very different than Machida’s. Davis did his job, but he is still probably two fights away from being in serious title contention.