Jose Aldo defended his featherweight title tonight, but after a strong start he was pushed right up until the finishing line by Frankie Edgar.
Edgar starts with a leg kick. After a few seconds Aldo lands a kick in return to the body. Inside leg kick from Edgar, Aldo responds with punches that don’t find the target.
Edgar with another leg kick and then rushes in and is met with an uppercut from Aldo. Again Edgar speeds in and Aldo’s extremely fast responding with a jab.
Aldo’s hands are lightning quick and he’s starting to catch Edgar regularly with the jab in particular drawing a little blood from his nose.
Edgar tries a spinning kick, but it misses the target. Aldo continues to clip Edgar with the jab and the challenger isn’t finding a home for his own punches.
Less than a minute to go and Aldo drops a solid leg kick for the first time. Another one comes and in the final seconds he goes upstairs with a head kick that’s blocked. Good first round for Aldo, establishing his authority in the striking department without needing to step up the gears too much.
Edgar lands a leg kick to start the second. Aldo lands a nice couple of punches on the counter. Edgar’s trying to push the pace, but Aldo’s quick hands are continuing to prove problematic as he comes in.
It looks like Edgar’s thinking about a takedown, but he’s not able to find it.
Half-way through the round Aldo lands another solid punch. Edgar swoops for a takedown and doesn’t get it. Aldo lands a leg kick and it buckles Edgar’s leg. Another comes shortly afterwards, landing with a thud and again taking Edgar’s leg completely out from under him momentarily.
Edgar’s in a tough spot here, with Aldo clearly weilding the bigger power, but also seeming to be faster than the former 155lb champ too.
With a minute to go Edgar finds some success, catching a kick and firing off a punch that takes Aldo to the mat for a brief second.
Aldo lands a solid jab again and looks for a spinning kick, but it misses and this round is in the books.
Third round begins with Aldo landing another power leg kick and Edgar goes for the takedown, but can’t pin Aldo down. Edgar trying to stay busy, throwing punches with more frequency.
It’s Aldo who lands the best strike though, firing up a front kick which connects to Edgar’s face, but the former champion takes it and keeps going though there’s more blood pouring out of his nose now.
A couple of punches from Aldo and Edgar lands with a body kick. Edgar works more kicks, this time to the leg.
Edgar moves in and lands an uppercut and fails with a takedown attempt. Edgar’s definitely found himself a foothold in the fight in this round as Aldo’s taken a bit of a breather. He still looks like the more dangerous fighter offensively, but Edgar’s now starting to score points.
Onto the championship rounds then and Edgar lands a leg kick in the opening minute, but Aldo responds not long afterwards with a spinning back kick that connects to the mid-section.
A brief exchange of punches and Edgar lands and Aldo backs out.
Mid-way through the round and Edgar looks for a takedown. It’s close, but Aldo spins out and breaks free. Edgar looking for strikes, but Aldo counters with a two-piece combo.
Edgar moves in for a takedown and this time is able to grab ahold of Aldo’s body and airlifts him before thumping him down to the canvas, but Aldo gets up and breaks free.
Aldo started strongly in this fight and has landed the heavier blows, but Edgar’s potentially now won at least one, if not two rounds and there’s all to play for in the fifth.
Edgar lands a leg kick 30 seconds into the final round. He comes forward again, but Aldo keeps him at bay with a couple of swift punches.
Aldo lands a jab that snaps Edgar’s head back. Edgar staying busy, but not landing with too many of his punches.
Three minutes to go and Edgar fails on a takedown attempt. Edgar starts to land with a few punches followed up by a kick. He’s scoring again and it’s suprising that Aldo’s not showing a little more urgency or going back to the leg kicks that were so effective from him earlier in the fight.
Edgar keeps the pace high heading into the last couple of minutes with a few combos hitting home, although a big right hand from Aldo is the most meaningful shot of the round so far.
More light combos from Edgar and the crowd are starting to shout his name.
Final 10 seconds and both men land with a punch, with Edgar’s connecting more cleanly. Then Aldo steps back and uses the cage to launch forward and land a hard superman-style punch to Edgar’s face to finish with a flourish.
So it’s on to the judges and we could be in for another close decision here. Has Edgar done enough to steal this one?
Nope. The judges are unanimous in their verdict that Jose Aldo is the winner (49-46 x2, 48-47).
This was a slightly odd performance from Aldo who never seemed to step out of third gear, even when Edgar started to come back into the fight. Perhaps it was just a case of not wanting to overdo it and run out of gas against a notorious cardio machine, but even so I feel that if he had just worked a gameplan based around leg kicks in the later rounds he could have had Edgar in a lot of trouble.
As it was I saw the fight closer than the two judges who scored it 49-46, but I don’t have any real complaints about the winner – I do feel Aldo was the better fighter overall, even if he didn’t ever show his full potential tonight.
Credit to Edgar though for once again showing great heart and determination to rebound after yet another tough start to make this fight competitive. He’s in an awkward spot now having lost out in title fights at both lightweight and featherweight, but wherever he goes from here he’s sure to continue to put on entertaining bouts.