Jose Aldo is one of my favorite fighters to watch. Ever. I’ll get that out of the way right at the start, so there’s no confusion. That said, I find myself in a state of disbelief leading up to every fight that the (still only) 27-year-old is set to compete in. Ever since Aldo’s UFC debut against Mark Hominick back at UFC 129, the story has been that if you can take him into the later rounds that you can outlast him. That his weight cut to get to 145 is too severe. That yes, he’s talented, but there’s just something missing with Aldo. Nevermind that Aldo was quite publicly ill leading up to the Hominick bout, having to forego several media events which included all of the UFC champions prior to the landmark event. Also, to ensure that this narrative holds some water, please forget that Aldo won the first four rounds of that fight in such a devastating fashion that Mark Hominick was never able to garner a subsequent win in MMA before retiring. The only responsible thing to take away from that fight is the fact that Hominick got a takedown in the fifth round and proceeded to land some moderately effective ground and pound to close out the fight. That bout wasn’t Jose Aldo being exposed by any means. In fact it wasn’t even the first time Aldo coasted through the final five minutes of a fight. He did the same against Urijah Faber at WEC 48 during a bout that was clearly in hand. The difference is that Hominick still had something left to offer in the fifth round, whereas Faber had taken so much punishment to the legs that there was nothing he could do. The even crazier part of this narrative is that when Aldo has been in fights that are competitive or somewhat tough to judge, he doesn’t exhibit this trait. Against Kenny Florian everyone thought Aldo was winning, but it wasn’t as clear as he normally makes his fights. As a result, Aldo put a stamp on the fifth round by utilizing his ground game — which had provided him the other most obvious round in that particular fight — just to make sure the judges would see it his way. The next time he went to a decision was against Frankie Edgar, who has historically shown some of the best cardio in MMA. Although Aldo easily won the first two rounds, Edgar started to come on in the third (although most still scored it for Aldo), and won the fourth. With another competitive fight heading into the final round, Aldo didn’t fold up but instead went out and won the round on the cards of two judges and numerous onlookers. If Frankie Edgar was unable to capitalize on Aldo’s tendency to “fade” I find it hard to believe any MMA fighter is capable of such a feat. The simple fact is that Jose Aldo exerts himself early in fights. He is such a phenomenal technician that this blows most opponents out of the water. Those who don’t get finished find themselves in a deep hole on the scorecards. Once it gets to the fifth round, Aldo normally has the luxury of taking his foot off the gas and still winning a wide decision. If for some reason he doesn’t feel the gap of victory is sufficient, he will continue fighting through the fifth round, as he did against Edgar and Florian. I contend that aside from the fourth round against Frankie Edgar, Jose Aldo has never lost a round that he has tried to win in the UFC or WEC. I obviously don’t know his exact state of mind during a fight, but as an onlooker that’s the perception I’ve gleaned. It also seems like he’s perfectly willing to stay on his back and lose a round if he’s well ahead on the cards, and to be honest, it makes sense. It’s certainly more common for a shocking comeback KO to come on the feet rather than in the guard of a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt. There is clearly a disconnect between Jose Aldo’s in-cage performances and how he is marketed and portrayed to the public. For nearly three years now, a narrative to beat this man has been trumpeted despite no proof existing to back it up. It’s going to take a whole lot more than cardio to beat Jose Aldo, despite how the UFC continues to try to sell his opponents. Speaking of the UFC, the company itself also seems dead set on promoting his teammate Renan Barao over Aldo as one of the true top fighters in the world today. The fact that Barao has three very impressive finishes to his name of late has certainly propelled him in the eyes of the company, but the facts are that Aldo is the most accomplished champion in the UFC right now. Many in MMA treasure dominance in a fighter, and they want that dominance to be absolute. It’s why we were so perplexed by Anderson Silva’s actions against Patrick Cote, Thales Leites and Demian Maia. And why, after a series of decision victories, Georges St-Pierre began to lose favor. Aldo hasn’t received the same sort of backlash that Silva experienced for his performances, but rumblings of Aldo not doing everything possible to finish his fights are growing louder and louder, just as they did for St-Pierre. This is probably true. In fact, this entire article has talked about Aldo fighting hard when he needs to, and easing up after that. It’s certainly a different version of Aldo than we saw when he was coming up in the WEC and ending nights in violent fashion. Despite that change, this is the Aldo we have now and he’s still a treat to watch. Because of the transition from WEC to UFC, it gets overlooked that this is a fighter who has now defended his featherweight title eight consecutive times, and won his first 14 fights between the two promotions. Both numbers are only two short of Silva as the most in Zuffa history. Not only is Jose Aldo quite obviously the greatest featherweight in MMA history, but he’s approaching the level of the greatest fighters of all time. It’s time we start talking about those attributes, rather than trying to concoct some fictional story as to how he will be beaten.