#14 - José Aldo vs Chad Mendes 2 - UFC 179 - Oct 25th 2014
Righty then. When WEC closed its doors, José Aldo was the reigning 145lbs champion. And because there weren’t already Featherweight and Bantamweight divisions in the UFC at the time, the WEC champs at both 145 and 135 would be crowned UFC champs when the rosters got merged.
Of course, the WEC belt was retired when the company was dissolved. So Aldo gets to keep that bad boy forever. He came into the UFC and successfully defended his title twice against Mark Hominick and Kenny Florian in 2011. His record at this point was 20-1, with the only defeat coming early in his career.
In January 2012, Aldo had a new challenger in undefeated powerhouse wrestler Chad Mendes. He was 11-0 and a lot of people thought his wrestling style could maybe give Aldo some problems. They fought at UFC 142, which was also in Rio, and Aldo won by knockout at the end of the first round.
It wasn’t without some controversy though. Aldo grabbed the fence to stop Mendes from completing takedowns. Not good. But a lot of people, Joe Rogan in particular, made more of it than it was whenever the subject came up over the next year or two. It was against the rules, no question. But I remember Rogan making out like Mendes was winning and Aldo kept cheating and then KO’d him. But when I rewatched it, Aldo was bossing the fight in the standup before any fence grabbing. Regardless, Mendes had to rebuild. He won his next 5 fights, 4 by knockout. But a couple were soft opponents. The Cody McKenzie fight especially was a horrible mismatch which Dana White even said afterwards that he shouldn’t have booked. Mendes had earned his way back into contention though. In the meantime, Aldo had continued to rule the Featherweight jungle. He rattled off 3 more defences against Frankie Edgar, Korean Zombie and Ricardo Lamas.
Between them, they'd pretty much laid waste to most of the division. So it was time for the rematch.
Originally, it was booked for August 2014’s UFC 176 PPV. But Aldo pulled out with a neck injury and the whole card ended up being cancelled. It finally got rescheduled for 179 in October and by this point tempers were flaring and it had become a bit of a grudge match.
“He’s already felt the power of my hands, my legs, so I know he’s scared that he will be on the ground sleeping again. It’s like teasing a tiger with a twig, I’m going to catch him. He can say whatever he wants but once we’re in the cage it’s just the two of us. No-one can help him.” - Jose Aldo
“The first time I fought Aldo I was basically a baby still. It was over two years ago, I had two fights in the UFC. I was basically 90%, 95% wrestling. Now, I’m able to knock people out on my feet. I have the ability to put pressure on with my hands. This is gonna be a whole different fight than he thinks it’s gonna be. He’s gonna be in for a rough night.” - Chad Mendes
OK. Here we go.
José Aldo (c) vs Chad Mendes - Featherweight Title
UFC 179: Aldo vs Mendes 2
October 25th 2014
Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Commentators are Mike Goldberg and Brian Stann. Marc Goddard is reffing.
Mendes coming out to some star spangled country boy bollocks song and the Brazilian crowd fucking hate him. Aldo, as usual, is walking out to ‘Run This Town’ by Jay-Z and Rihanna and the crowd love him. He’s really flying the flag for Brazil here as Goldberg tells us that he’s the only Brazilian UFC champ at this time.
Round 1: Aldo looking sharp and really fired up early on. The crowd and atmosphere is electric. They’re loud as fuck cheering every time Aldo does anything and doing that ‘you’re gonna die’ chant at Mendes. Both connecting and Mendes scores a flash knockdown on Aldo!
Aldo doesn’t look hurt but he must’ve felt it because he’s clearly more wary of Mendes’ power now. Mendes isn’t looking to wrestle at all it seems. Every time one lands a nice shot the other answers with their own. Aldo gets poked in the eye and after a brief time-out, he comes at Mendes hard.
And now Aldo gets a knockdown! He ground and pounds his way into mount but loses it. Back on the feet and Aldo connects with a big combo right as the round ends that hurts Mendes badly.
I remember this being a talking point at the time because the last punch landed after the buzzer. Brian Stann was all over it. I don’t think Aldo was being dirty myself. He was in the middle of throwing a 3 punch combination and that last shot was already on the way before the buzzer went. Plus, this crowd is so ridiculously loud I wouldn’t be surprised if Aldo, Mendes and Goddard couldn’t hear the buzzer properly. Whatever the case, Mendes got fucking nailed. Aldo 10-9.
Round 2: Mendes seems to have recovered well. He’s really piling the pressure on and is landing a lot of kicks. Aldo’s starting to get his jab going but Mendes is getting the best of most of these exchanges. Good round for Mendes there and he takes the round 10-9.
Round 3: They touch gloves and Mendes tried to get a sneaky punch in. Prick. Crowd didn’t like that. He pokes Aldo in the eye again and they hate that even more. They go after it again and Aldo’s looking fast as fuck. But right when I say that...
Mendes with a hard uppercut that seems to stun Aldo for a second. Mendes trying to follow up and gets cracked with a counter right to the swede...
Christ. Every time Mendes seems to have a breakthrough, Aldo one-ups him with something better. Aldo’s pouring it on. Mendes wants to wrestle now but Aldo’s a fucker to take down. Aldo’s round 10-9.
Onto the championship rounds.
Round 4: Mendes back pushing the pace again. Aldo’s face is marked up now and he’s bleeding from the eye. Mendes is spamming that uppercut now but can’t find the target. Aldo flying knee barely misses and he’s turning it on in the last minute of the round. It’s not enough though and Mendes wins the round 10-9.
So I’ve got them all tied at 38-38 going into the 5th. Aldo’s had the bigger moments and the heavier knockdowns but round-for-round, they’re even.
Round 5: Mendes with a strong start and landing some nice shots. Mendes finally gets a takedown but can’t hold him down and doesn’t really inflict any damage. And Aldo’s back up. Beautiful combo from Aldo, followed by a big knee. They’re both throwing and both connecting but Aldo always seems to get the last word in the exchanges. Aldo stuffs another takedown attempt as we enter the final minute of the fight. The crowd are buzzing. They go for it as the last 10 seconds tick down and Aldo’s trying flying kicks and all sorts. It’s over. Aldo 10-9.
They hug and Brian Stann channels Adam Smith, saying “And there’s the respect”.
Winner - José Aldo by unanimous decision.
Yep. Agree with that. Mendes fought his arse off but Aldo was just that bit better. Fantastic fight. I had it as FOTY in 2014 fairly comfortably.
I look at this fight as the beginning of the end for Chad Mendes. He was never quite the same after this. The commentators kept banging on how it was the most damage we’d seen Aldo absorb in a fight but Mendes took the brunt of the abuse in this one. He went 2-3 over his next 5 fights, got stopped by Conor McGregor etc. He also got knocked out in a round by Frankie Edgar who’s not really known for his punching power. That was a bit of a telling sign. He ended up retiring after the loss to Alexander Volkanovski in December 2018.
And of course we know the score with Aldo. From the 13 seconds of misery against McGregor to the Holloway losses to the resurgence to the unexpected cut to 135lbs. He’s had an eventful few years.
I doubt it happens but there’s not much in MMA that would please me more in 2020 than for Aldo to break Henry Cejudo’s face and take the title.