First off, I’d like to thank those of you who read this blog, whether it’s frequently or irregularly, as I set a new record for most monthly views and visitors in May.
Not surprisingly, I went to the bar to watch UFC 212 a few nights ago. The bar was pretty empty by the usual UFC fight night standards, since the main card wasn’t the most attractive to the casual observer and was actually rather thin outside of the top 2-3 bouts on the main card. What did surprise me, however, was how disappointed and sad to an extent I felt on the drive home after watching Jose Aldo get stopped in the third round by Max Holloway.
I’ve never been a Jose Aldo fan. That sounds harsh, but if you were to ask me to list my favorite fighters, I probably wouldn’t have mentioned him. That said, however, I never disliked him or went out of my way to cheer against him, I was just indifferent on him. I appreciated his talent and considered him to be among the world’s best pound-for-pound, and I do feel that he’s the greatest featherweight to ever compete in mixed martial arts. Maybe that’s why I felt a sense of disappointment as I traveled home in the wee hours of Sunday morning.
As I’ve stated before on here, I began regularly watching the UFC and MMA as a whole in late 2008. The first featherweight title fight I ever watched live on television was WEC 41 in June 2009, when Mike Brown defended the title against Urijah Faber. I’ve always had a thing about cheering against a promotion’s poster boy, so I cheered for Brown to win that night and from that point on I always considered myself a Mike Brown fan. Fast forward to November 2009, when Mike Brown squared off against Jose Aldo at WEC 44 for the featherweight title. Aldo defeated Brown in dominant fashion, finishing Brown 1:20 into the second round, and I was blown away by how decisively he won the title that night. That started the Jose Aldo era in MMA’s featherweight division, and without knowing it at the time, I had just watched a legend’s career really begin to take flight.
Jose Aldo, in hindsight, was really the first dominant champion in MMA whose entire tenure as champion I really got to watch unfold right in front of me. Sure, I got to see a good portion of Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre’s time at the top of the sport, but by the time I began watching the sport regularly those two were already established as dominant champs. They were in the middle of their long title reigns. In the case of Aldo, I got to watch his entire tenure at the top as it was happening. I even had the privilege of watching him fight in person at UFC 169, when he defeated Ricardo Lamas via unanimous decision.
So for me, Jose Aldo represents the first dominant champion who I was able to watch execute his top talent as it was unfolding for the whole world to see. I wasn’t just watching highlights years after the fact like I have with fighters such as Randy Couture, Chuck Liddell, and Matt Hughes. This was an elite fighter I was watching and appreciating at the same time of the rest of the MMA community.
Perhaps I’m overthinking things. But I was just surprised at how I felt a little disappointed to know that I had watched a historical era in the featherweight division come to an end on Saturday night.