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Hot Tweets: Jose Aldo’s five greatest performances and the future for Raul Rosas Jr.

UFC Fight Night: Font v Aldo
Jose Aldo
Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

It’s a rare weekend off from a major UFC event but that doesn’t mean we’re lacking for major news, the biggest of which is the retirement of Jose Aldo. I know there’s already been a ton of Aldo content this week, but as one of my favorite fighters of all time, I’m still going to wax poetic on the man for the bulk of this edition of Hot Tweets. Then I’ll close with a couple of Contender Series questions.


Jose Aldo

Jose Aldo is important because he’s at worst the fifth greatest fighter of all time, and I mean that sincerely. There are four fighters you can make the argument for being greater than him and none of them are locks for that claim. No fighter has a significantly better career than Aldo’s. He’s in the God Tier of the MMA Pantheon, along with Georges St-Pierre, Demetrious Johnson, Anderson Silva, and Jon Jones. That’s the five. Personally, I rank Aldo and GSP as 1A and 1B, but it’s all a matter of taste. So long as you acknowledge he’s in the Top-5, I can’t fault you too much.

Aside from being one of the greatest fighters ever, Aldo is also one of the most important fighters ever (though in this regard it’s fair to put him outside of the Top-5, so long as he’s in the Top-10). The Mount Rushmore of Most Important Fighters has to include Royce Gracie, Ronda Rousey, and Conor McGregor, with the fourth slot being open to argument. I think I’d put Chuck Liddell in there but there are a few who have a case for it, including Aldo. Not only is Aldo one of the longest reigning champions in history, but he is the pioneer of the sub-155 pounds weight classes. Think of it like this: your favorite fighters inspired generations to come. The number of fighters who have said they started doing this because they saw Anderson Silva or Fedor Emelianenko or B.J. Penn do it is countless, and for damn near every one of them below lightweight, Aldo was the dude (not to mention his reverance in Brazil). He was such an integral part of fighting for so long, and he did it all without a million controversies. You cannot tell this history of MMA without mentioning Jose Aldo, and that puts him on a short list in terms of importance.

As for Aldo’s Top-5 moments, I will first direct you to listen to the most recent episode of DAMN! They Were Good, wherein we exhaustively detail all of Aldo’s career, highs and lows (it’s extremely long, so you may need to break it up into segments). Then I will say that excluding Aldo’s WEC run is doing a massive disservice to the man — especially since for all intents and purposes, the WEC was the UFC at the time — so I will be including that as well in my list, which goes like this (in chronological order):

  1. Flying Knee KO of Cub Swanson at WEC 41: His single-greatest highlight and one of the best highlights ever in MMA. Man hits a double flying knee five seconds into a title eliminator bout. There’s a reason it was on highlight reels for over a decade.
  2. Battering Urijah Faber at WEC 48: Even though Aldo was already the champion, Faber was the standard-bearer for the featherweight division, and Aldo mangled him. The way Faber talks about that fight is enough to dissuade anyone of ever wanting to get into professional fighting as a career path.
  3. Kneeing Chad Mendes’ head to the moon at UFC 142: This was the night Jose Aldo entered MMA lore. Yes, he totally cheated and grabbed the fence (no, it didn’t ultimately matter as Mendes hits the same takedown on Aldo five seconds later and he stands right back up) but my rule for all sports is that you’re allowed to cheat as long as you do something cool. And counter-kneeing Mendes into unconsciousness before sprinting into the crowd to celebrate with all of Rio, well, that’s legendary. This was the night he became “The King of Rio.”
  4. Outclassing Frankie Edgar at UFC 156: The moment Aldo became the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world (or should have been, anyway). Frankie Edgar had just been robbed of the lightweight title (twice) by Benson Henderson, and Aldo picked out his clothes for him, packed him his lunch, and took Edgar to school.
  5. Going to war with Chad Mendes at UFC 179: Arguably the best forgotten title fight of all time, Aldo and Mendes took pieces from each other over the course of 25 minutes in a way that changed both of their careers forever. Aldo showed he was still the superior fighter to Mendes, but he also showed heart and resolve that many had begun to question, fighting like a monster in the fifth round to make sure he retained his title.
  6. Turning back the clock against Rob Font at UFC Vegas 44: I’m cheating and doing six, because this one is also important in the story of Aldo, even if it’s less important in the terms of his career peak. The fact that Aldo, after clearly losing his fastball, was able to suddenly drop down a weight class and reinvent himself to still be one of the best in the world, 15 years into his career, is arguably his greatest achievement. Older fighters move up to slower divisions, they don’t move down, and they damn sure don’t become higher-volume fighters. You could choose any of his bantamweight fights in this slot, but I went with Font because it was a five-rounder. Just remarkable.

The fact that this list doesn’t include his title wins over Mike Brown at WEC 44 or against Frankie Edgar at UFC 200 is a testament to just how legendary this man’s career was. One of the all-time greats, and I will miss seeing him fight.


Raul Rosas Jr.

LOL. Of course not. At least not at first. There’s a formula at work here and it goes like this:

Step 1: Rosas will get a showcase debut fight, probably against another Contender Series alum. The commentary team can marvel at how a 17-year-old kid is so advanced as he busts up some guy who probably shouldn’t really be in the UFC.

Step 2: Rosas gets another softball. He’ll probably be a -300 favorite and he’ll do big things again.

Step 3: Here’s the step up. Instead of grooming Rosas for a few years and letting him develop, they’re going hammer down. Not a Top-15 bantamweight, but somebody in the Top-30 or 40. Nate Maness or someone like that. It’ll be a tough fight and he’ll probably lose, at which point then we put him on the Chase Hooper development path. But if he wins, Rosas is getting launched. Top-15 guy next as the UFC crosses their fingers that they’ve found the next big thing.

This is how the UFC developmental path works. Nine times out of 10, it results in a fighter getting pushed too fast too soon, and sometimes that even irreparably damage their career. But once in a generation you get a Jon Jones and it all works out. And you won’t see Rosas complaining as he believes he’s in the latter camp.


Speaking of the Contender Series

I don’t think this is a hypothesis so much as it’s a fact: Contender Series products cost a pittance of what it costs to sign established names, and that’s the only way for the UFC to increase profits now.

The quality of the average UFC card has decreased dramatically because the UFC has a guaranteed level of income with the ESPN deal. So long as it puts on the requisite amount of events, it gets paid all that sweet, sweet Disney money. So when your income is functionally capped, the only way to increase profits is to decrease costs. It already runs a ton of events out of the Apex, which keeps its overhead depressed, and the UFC has been doing this so long that the production costs are probably as minimized as possible without totally sacrificing quality. Which means the only way to really cut costs is to lower fighter pay, which means hiring lower quality workers across the board. It’s business 101.

And just so we’re clear, this is not a uniquely UFC way to approach something like this. We’re seeing it basically across the board with the rise of streaming platforms. Quality of content matters significantly less than quantity of it. That’s why Netflix gives us two dozen movies that would have been direct-to-video a few years ago. Because it doesn’t really matter anymore.

Hooray, capitalism!


Thanks for reading and thank you for everyone who sent in Tweets! Do you have any burning questions about things at least somewhat related to combat sports? Then you’re in luck, because you can send your Hot Tweets to me, @JedKMeshew, and I will answer them! Doesn’t matter if they’re topical or insane. Send them to me and I’ll answer the ones I like the most. Let’s have fun.

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