LAS VEGAS -- Solidifying his hold as one of the sport's current pound-for-pound greats, Jose Aldo turned back Frankie Edgar's attempt to become only the third two-division champion in UFC history, defeating Edgar in a unanimous decision in the main event of UFC 156.
The judges scored the bout 49-46, 49-46 and 48-47 for the featherweight champion.
Of course, it wouldn't be an Edgar bout without some bit of controversy. When the final scores were read, a large part of the Mandalay Bay Events Center crowd booed the decision, believing Edgar had outworked Aldo over the last three rounds.
At least from a landed strikes perspective, the bout was indeed close. The final stats saw Aldo out-land Edgar 76-63, according to FightMetric. But while Aldo landed more in each of the first two rounds (21-5 and 19-7, respectively), Edgar turned the tide in rounds 3, 4 and 5. In those rounds it was 19-15, 14-7 and 18-14 for the former lightweight champion.
There was no question though that Aldo landed the more impactful strikes. By the end of the bout, Edgar's face was beat up, with a swollen left eye, blood trickling from his nose, and bumps and bruises covering his face.
Edgar's team seemed sure he won, as his coach Ricardo Almeida hoisted him on to his shoulders before the final decision. Aldo's team did the same for him, and the two shared an embrace in the center of the cage.
"A close fight," Edgar said afterward. "I keep finding myself in these situations. It is what it is. Congrats to Jose on a great fight."
Edgar eventually said that he believed he had won, but accepted the final outcome.
Aldo got off to a great start early with a crisp jab and overhand right that found their marks, and by the end of the first, Edgar was already bleeding from the nose. Edgar struggled to close the range and look for a takedown, and fighting from that distance favored Aldo's speed.
But as the rounds wore on, that speed advantage slimmed and Edgar did begin to find his mark. In the fourth, Aldo scored a slam takedown and did strong work against the cage, likely picking up the round, but in the judges' eyes, he didn't do enough to take the rest of the bout.
After losing title matches in two weight classes, Edgar said he would have to go home and take some time before deciding what would be next for his career. The loss dropped him to 15-4-1.
Meanwhile, Aldo successfully defended the belt for the sixth straight time in improving to 22-1.