I think we're all familiar with the drama surrounding their first fight. Early in the first round, Jose Aldo infamously avoided being solidly planted on the canvas by lacing his fingers in the cage and holding on for dear life. I can't remember the last time I saw Jose on his back, but I will forever remember the time he went full horizontal in the air. The move saved him and he was able to land a crushing knee to stop the fight with one second left in the first round. The cage grab changed the tempo of the fight and earned him a very controversial win.
Mendes went on to win his next five straight with four of those wins by knockout. In the process he became the first and only man to TKO Clay Guida in Guida's 46 pro fights. In the meantime, Aldo earned decisive victories over Frankie Edgar, Chan Sung Jung, and Ricardo Lamas mostly through his mix of kicks and tight footwork.
What's at Stake
Aside from the featherweight title, the stakes for this fight are higher than normal. Jose Aldo is the last remaining Brazilian champion in the UFC. His teammate, fellow Nova Unaio member Renan Barao, recently dropped the bantamweight belt to Team Alpha Male's TJ Dillashaw. Either Nova Unaio will keep the tables even or Team Alpha Male will capture both champioship titles.
In addition, a win for Mendes adds another fighter from a dominant wrestling background to the list of current champs. Cain Velasquez, Jon Jones, Chris Weidman, Johny Hendricks, and Anthony Pettis are all prodigies from top wrestling programs. If it's not already considered the most dominant style in mma right now, America's wrestling system will be undeniable. If Mendes manages to KO Aldo, one of the best strikers in mma, the Bang Ludwig system of Muay Thai will also have two champions and will likely be considered the best in the nation.
For Jose it's not about what he wins but what he keeps. He's already ranked the number two pound for pound fighter by UFC's official numbers. He won't be taking that seat from Jon Jones anytime soon, but Demetrious Johnson has quietly crept up to the number three position and they love hyping him. An Aldo win means he keeps his belt, his gym goes even against Team Alpha Male in title fights this year, and he continues to be close to the top in an increasingly crowded space.