MMA Power Rankings -- Featherweight
Monday, Jan. 16
Turns out all the talk about Chad Mendes nullifying Jose Aldo's striking via old-fashioned wrestling was a product of imagination. Mendes went to Rio de Janeiro as a Rocky figure that was placing all the pressure at Aldo's feet. He also promised he wouldn't apologize for grinding out a five-round victory and rendering Aldo's striking moot. This was a lot of optimism, in the end.
Come fight night at UFC 142, Mendes wasn't able to get anything going with his shots on Aldo, and late in the first round ate a knee that dropped him like he'd been tased. Aldo, who walked to the cage in an almost bizarre exultant state of mind, exited in the same state of delirium after the knockout, bolting from the cage and jumping headlong into the sea of fans in Brazil. This became a security risk/fantastic scene all at once, and showed a little insight into the passion of the featherweight champion.
Now the questions begin to pile up. Who is in the 145-pound division to challenge him? Is there a chance he flies the coup for the lightweight division? Did he just solidify himself as a top five pound-for-pound fighter, right alongside Georges St. Pierre, Anderson Silva, Jon Jones and Frankie Edgar? Bottom line is, if we're having these conversations, that means he keeps doing extraordinary things.