Much was made during his media tour of Jose Aldo's admiration for former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson. On the surface the two have much in common. Like Tyson, Aldo is climbing to lofty heights early in his career, riding a string of devastating and amazing knockouts to a title shot tonight against Mike Brown.
But this is MMA, not boxing. And as much as he resembles Tyson, Aldo's rise reminds me more of another Brazilian slugger...
For all the Tyson talk, the fighter Aldo most resembles is the young Vitor Belfort. "The Phenom" entered the UFC octagon in the early days with blazing hands and furious power. It was only later opponents and fans would find out his heart would often wilt when the going gets tough. If anyone will put Aldo to the test, it will be Brown. More than half of Aldo's fights have ended in the first round. How well he is prepared to go into the championship rounds could be the difference in the fight.
Like Aldo, Belfort was the product of a famed Jiu Jitsu camp, studying under the late Carlson Gracie. Aldo has a Jiu Jitsu pedigree as well. His ability to beat Brown may depend quite a bit on how well he can apply those skills against a very strong wrestler.
"How good is he? We really don't know. He hasn't been tested. Brown's going to test him," WEC President Reed Harris said in an exclusive interview. That test, if it comes, will likely be on the ground. Like Belfort, a Carlson Gracie disciple, Aldo trains with some of Jiu Jitsu's best at Nova Uniao. He's spent almost every second of his fighting career standing and banging. If Brown can take him down, and keep him there, the puncher's Jiu Jitsu prowess will be the difference in becoming a champion or becoming another Brown victim.