In the main event of UFC 142, Jose Aldo continued his reign of terror in the 145-pound division by knocking out challenger Chad Mendes to keep a firm grip on his UFC featherweight title. Compared to his WEC run, his UFC fights had been a tad lackluster so far (despite winning both of them), but he returned to the highlight reel in dramatic fashion last night by stopping Mendes with one second to go in the first round. He also extended his winning streak to 14.
Mendes started off well, landing a few leg kicks. Aldo responded with kicks of his own and stuffed some takedowns, which seemed to demoralize Mendes from that point on. Mendes almost had a takedown halfway through the round, but a blatant cage grab by Aldo kept it standing. Mendes then had Aldo's back with Jose pinned against the cage, but Aldo spun and landed a beautiful knee to the face right as Mendes dropped down to shoot in. Mendes fell flat on his back, and Aldo jumped on him and landed two more shots that put Mendes away. The fight was stopped at 4:59 of the first round, which is just the sixth time in UFC history that a guy has one with one second left in a round.
What was the high spot of this fight?
The beautiful Aldo knee that quickly led to the finish. You don't see pretty strikes like that very often. Aldo running into the crowd was also really fun to watch, and it was hilarious to watch him try to get away from the security guards so he could do it a second time.
Where do these guys go from here?
Aldo retained his status as the best featherweight in the world, but who will he face next? Mendes was the one clear-cut challenger for the belt, and he got knocked out. No one else is really on the horizon right now. Chan Sung Jung and Hatsu Hioki are the two names that come up most often. Hioki is scheduled to face Bart Palaszewski at UFC 144, while the Korean Zombie is currently unbooked. Another possible angle is Aldo taking on UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar if he gets through Ben Henderson at UFC 144, but that's a longshot at best.
Mendes will have to go back to the drawing board. He is still the number two featherweight in the world, and will likely meet a top-five fighter in his next outing, but after losing to Aldo the way he did it's going to be a while before he gets a rematch. A bout with Diego Nunes would be an excellent fight and would make a lot of sense.
Watch it now, later or never?
Now. It was Aldo's best performance in the UFC, the finish is remarkable, and the fan reaction when Aldo runs into the crowd is amazing. Witnessing the moment that Jose Aldo became a true superstar is something I'll remember for a while, and you'll probably enjoy it too.