Jose Aldo’s big win in his “super-fight” with Frankie Edgar last weekend was not without controversy. Aldo won a unanimous decision in the UFC 156 main event Saturday, but many fans and media thought Edgar should have gotten the nod. (What else is new in an Edgar fight, right?)
After I scored the bout the same way that judges Adalaide Byrd and Jeff Collins did — four rounds to one for Aldo — I thought I’d offer my analytical assessment of the fight with reference to the stats.
Edgar definitely took the fourth round thanks to a takedown and the edge in strikes. So it came down to the third and fifth rounds, with the middle frame being the closest in most people’s eyes.
Many scored it for Edgar, as that was when he started to find success with his jab and also landed kicks of his own. He ended the round with four more significant strikes (19 to 15) and at a slightly higher accuracy (Str%); but in my opinion, Aldo clearly landed the more effective strikes — the ones that did more damage — to which judges are supposed to give more weight. So while the middle round was when Edgar started to make it less of a one-sided fight, I still felt Aldo won it 10-9.
While a lot of people also gave Edgar the fifth round, to me the final stanza was a carbon copy of the third — again Edgar landed four more strikes overall (18 to 14), but his efficiency was virtually identical to Aldo’s, and Edgar again went 0-for-2 on takedown attempts. Once more, it was all about the effectiveness of the strikes, and to me, Aldo was much more dynamic in his attack and his strikes came with much more power.
Indeed, FightMetric gave Aldo the edge in “Effectiveness Scores” (which weights the type and delivery of the individual strikes, not just the total number) for both the third (69-60) and fifth rounds (81-48). As a result, FightMetric also scored the fight for the champion 49-46. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t a close fight, just that Aldo was at least slightly better in four of five rounds.
However, many still felt it should have been 48-47 for Edgar — leading me to half-facetiously expect it to lead to another immediate rematch for Edgar. But thankfully Pettis inserted his name into the mix, saying he wants to drop to featherweight and fight the champ. The UFC obliged, setting up that fight for August.
Of course, this has opened up a brand new can of worms.
While there has been no clearly determined next No. 1 featherweight contender (due to Erik Koch’s loss to Ricardo Lamas) and the UFC and Aldo aren’t too keen on a matchup with Lamas, the “super-fight” with Pettis makes sense, and I expect it to be a fantastic scrap between two of the most exciting strikers in the UFC. But I’m just not sure about the timing… or about what comes next for Pettis, win or lose.
The main reason that the longtime top 155-pound contender wanted the Aldo matchup is because he didn’t want to wait to fight the winner of the April 20 lightweight title bout between champion Benson Henderson and Gilbert Melendez. But he’ll be waiting for another six-plus months anyway to fight Aldo on Aug. 3, which is right about the time that the Henderson-Melendez winner would be ready for his next fight. So dropping to 145 pounds isn’t really solving Pettis’s inactivity issue.
Meanwhile, what happens if “Showtime” wins? He’s said he wants to be the GOAT, which would involve being a two-division champion. But is the UFC going to allow him to take Aldo’s belt and then go straight back to lightweight to challenge there? I don’t think so. He would have to vacate it if he wants to go back to his more comfortable weight, or he would have to defend it a few times first (perhaps starting with an immediate Aldo rematch), keeping him at 145 pounds for a while, which I’m not sure he wants to do.
On the other hand, if Pettis loses it will be one-and-done for him at 145; but could he then go back and fight for the lightweight title? I believe a loss to Aldo (one of the top four pound-for-pound fighters) in Aldo’s division, would not preclude him from returning as the No. 1 lightweight contender (if Chael Sonnen can get a title shot immediately after a championship-fight loss in another division, then so should he). The only trouble is he likely wouldn’t get the next title shot because the Henderson-Melendez winner will probably already have his next opponent lined up. So Pettis will be right back where he was — playing the waiting game.
Bottom line, I like Pettis’ creativity in trying to get any title shot he can get sooner, and his fight with Aldo will be dynamite. But he probably should have pushed for a date sooner than Aug. 3.
And the UFC too would be wise to make it sooner, because it could find itself in a tough spot yet again, with dilemmas for both the featherweight and lightweight divisions.
(The UFC’s timing of the announcement of the matchup was also poor, considering it just released its first-ever media-voted UFC fighter rankings the day before. Many are wondering what’s the point of having this “definitive list” if the first matchup you make completely disregards it? Of course, UFC president Dana White did say the rankings could have an effect on matchmaking “but nothing definitive.” Good to have caveats.)
SO MUCH FOR BRAZILIAN OVERSHADOWING
Last week I wrote in my blog that the four Brazilians on the main card of UFC 156 were possibly being disrespected heading into their bouts. The three outside the main event were all fairly significant underdogs, while the storylines for each fighter’s opponents were getting more play.
Well, the South Americans were undeterred. The main card fighters from Brazil went 4-0 on the main card, showing that the country that has recently taken over the title as “mecca of MMA,” is still the force to be reckoned with.
Just like when the WEC was absorbed by the UFC in early 2011 and questions were raised as to whether the new lightweights would stack up against the current UFC roster, the same questions have been raised about the Strikeforce fighters joining the UFC. They were answered in the affirmative on Saturday.
Interestingly, if you look in particular at the 155-pound class, the top three in the UFC’s new official fighter rankings are all recent imports — the champion Henderson and No. 3 Pettis are the WEC’s last two title-holders and No. 2 Melendez is the reigning Strikeforce belt-holder.