Jose Aldo Fighting Style Breakdown part 1

Jose Aldo, he’s been undefeated in the UFC for a long time, but what makes him so great?

I took some time to refresh and study Jose Aldo to see how his stand up skills have changed, what makes him effective and looked at possible drawbacks in his style. Aldo actually fights differently depending on his opponents strengths, so I’ll get right to the core of Aldo’s tools. We’re gonna take a look at a few different opponents to show just exactly how Aldo has adjusted to take on the best of the division.



Lets start with one of the first tools EVERYONE recognizes about Aldo–his vicious leg kicks.

He’s very good at adapting to various opponents. If you choose to impose takedowns, like florian and Edgar had done when trying to catch Jose’s leg kicks, Aldo is very likely to become more reserved with throwing those kicks. If you have no intentions to take Aldo down, he will not hesitate to smash your legs with kicks.

Here’s the thing, Aldo is a unique case first of all. He’s one of the very few who knows how and when to kick you when you’re not able to check (blocking kicks). When you check a kick, you’re generally required to stay stationary and lift the leg up and out to shield yourself from the kick. Aldo understands very well that an opponent can NOT check a kick while in motion. Knowing this key information, he times his kick at the exact moment that you move so you can’t lift the leg to check kicks.

Some of the more common motions a fighter initiates are when they advance or when they retreat.

Here you see Aldo noticing a sidestepping motion, he throws the kick while the opponent is in the rhythm of his movement.

aldo kick to moving legs - counter
Edgar in motion stepping to the left
aldo kick to moving away 2 - counter
Aldo kicks while Hominick in motion to retreat

Here above, Hominick tries to retreat and has no ability to check the kick.

aldo kick against moving in - counter.gif
Aldo kicks Hominick as he advances in

That’s not to say he always timing the kick. He does throw it out without setting it up from time to time.

Some of the other common ways he lands kicks are in volume. This is usually done by following up his counters and ending with leg kicks or either advancing with combos that end with leg kicks. Both options are viable as they blind the opponents guard, thereby taking away the focus to the legs, making it hard check.

Aldo sets up leg kicks lamas.gif
Sets up kicks with punches



Aldo sports a 72% striking defense percentage at this time of writing. A lot of this can be attributed to the fact that he’s constantly moving, creating angles and not allowing himself to be stationary too long to absorb damage. It’s very common to see Aldo use footwork to move away. This is also a reason why it becomes hard to take him down. Aside from his good grappling, he constantly moves out of angles where you can’t catch him. (as Chad Mendes has mentioned before, Aldo is good a re-positioning his hips) Even if he is caught, Aldo has proven he has the ability to transition back up.

aldo evade lead - defense.gif
Evasive movement

aldo evade - defense

aldo evasive pivot
Evasive angle
aldo pivoting - defense.gif
Aldo slipping. Note that Aldo does a good job keeping that shield up while pivoting in case of head kicks

The beauty behind his movement is that it draws the opponent in to advance (similar to when Lyoto Machida draws in his opponent), and it works exactly well with want Aldo wants – to fight off the counter. Aldo often drew in Edgar in to open him up with his counters. Here are a few examples of Aldo’s  counters.

aldo retreating jabs - counter.gif
Aldo moves back, drawing in Edgar to advance while peppering him with jabs
aldo back step cross.gif
Back step, draw in, jab, cross
aldo back step cross pivot - counter.gif
Aldo backs up, draws Edgar in, fires a cross while pivoting off into a defensive angle

It’s important to note that with the countering Aldo uses after drawing you in, he has a tendency to create angles to avoid allowing the opponent to return counters.

Aldo is pretty good at landing well timed counters in the pocket as well.

aldo check hook 2 - counter.gif
Aldo throws the lead hook, pivoting off to a safe angle adjusting his hips


aldo cross pivoting counter
Aldo throws the cross and adjust his hips to pivot off to a safe angle

Aldo made good use of the fact that Edgar would follow up on Aldo whenever he moved away and took advantage of Edgar’s habit of entering the pocket while leaving himself open for counters. In addition, being evasive helped Aldo minimize the chance of Edgar taking him down.

Aldo was also good at baiting the Edgar into approaching. Aldo is good at peppering you in the face with his jab. Against Edgar, Aldo would regularly throw a shot like a jab to purposely bait Edgar to advance and strike him back while maintaining distance away.

aldo jab, retreating double jab - lead
Jabs to draw Edgar into counter back
aldo lead, back step, jab overhand - lead bait, counter.gif
Jabs to bait a counter, hops back to meet Edgar’s approach with another lead strike and ends with an right hand
aldo jab, retreating lead hook, cross - lead.gif
Aldo Jabs to bait counter, pulls the head back while returning a hook to meet Edgar’s cross, ends with his own cross

Here you see examples where Aldo throws the jab to make them advance to counter. As soon as Aldo fires the jab, he pulls back to avoid their counter while throwing a strike at the same time to meet their punches. All this is done while maintaining distance away or around the opponent.

Some of these tactics I mentioned aren’t habits Aldo will usually utilize against every fighter but they we’re put to good use against an opponent who would fall for them and posed a threat to take him down. In the next part, we’re gonna look at a different opponent who is a little more cautious about moving into the pocket — Chad Mendes.

See part 2 for the next continuation of the breakdown.



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