Jose Aldo Fighting Style Breakdown part 2

This is part of the the style breakdown of Jose Aldo. If you missed the first part 1, here is the link to catch up

Part 2


Some of these tactics I mentioned in part 1 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. In the part 2, we’re gonna look at a different opponent who is a little more cautious about moving into the pocket — Chad Mendes.

Chad Mendes, is a former teammate of UFC bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw. Dillashaw is well known for his crafty footwork and ability to move while creating angles. The value behind approaching like this is that it becomes hard for your opponent to return counters to you while you advance in with your attacks. Naturally, it’s understandable that Mendes adapted some of these principles of approaching into the pocket as well.

Back in part one, I mentioned how Aldo was able to pull off landing his counter strikes from moving away and baiting Edgar to advance. With Mendes, it wasn’t much of the same case considering his ability to close distance with angles to work his punches. Approaching the way Mendes did makes it hard to counter him.

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(similar to TJ’s switch cross) Mendes using a switch cross and ending with a hoping hook outside Aldo’s lead leg
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Mendes moves in, hits a defensive angle with constant head movement
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Mendes moves in and angles off to the outside of Aldo’s lead leg

 Chad had already hit a new angle where it was difficult for Aldo to return counters. For two of those examples, recall the fundamental principle of foot positioning that when you move outside the lead leg in a mirror stance match up, you have more of an advantage because it denies the opponent proper positioning to use a majority of their attacks.

Another thing Mendes did well was using what Edgar did little use of doing–Mendes utilize hand fighting. Many of you may already know the art of hand fighting already if you follow various fight breakdowns through the net, but I’ll give a refresher. Hand fighting can be used to measure the distance to the opponent, used for keeping an opponents hand in check so they don’t strike with it, or it can be used to pull apart the opponents guard, exposing openings for shots.

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Mendes measuring range, stalking down and cutting off ground on Aldo

What Mendes could be seen regularly doing was approaching and pawing at Jose’s hands to measure the distance. The advantage of approaching with the hand gauging is that you can approach into the pocket carefully and walk down the opponent towards to cage to cut them off to where they can’t retreat. Since you’re in such a neutral stance, it’s very easy to retreat away if opponent tries to counter while you’re hand gauging.

Also, when you regularly paw at your opponent’s hand, it becomes a non-threatening rhythm the opponent starts to recognize. The opponent will most likely become more stationary rather than evasive. Logically speaking, it makes no sense to expend energy and to give up your ground against an action that poses no big threat.

Now that we have these two factors considered, the hand trapping and the dynamic movement of Chad Mendes, you will now see with a big difference as to why Aldo didn’t utilize retreating counters as heavily against Mendes compared to what he did with Edgar.


What did Aldo do to adapt to this though? Well, he displayed a variety of different options when it came to countering. Since trying to move and bait wasn’t much of a strong option against Mendes, Aldo made use of utilizing countering while in the pocket. One of the more notable counters Aldo used were the slipping lead hook and check hook.

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Slip into a counter pivot hook (check hook)
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Slip into a counter pivot hook
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Aldo staying into the pocket to return and ends by exiting to maintain distance
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Slipping lead hook
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Aldo throws a slipping lead hook and follows with a cross

The slipping hook is one of the signature counters that the legendary Buakaw can be seen doing. It’s done to either invite them into a clinch or to just simply counter their advancements.

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Buakaw moving his head off center-line while firing the lead hook as the opponent approaches


One of the main strengths of Aldo’s method of countering is that his counters meet an opponent who approaches with the punching range. Keep in mind that Aldo’s counters consist of punching counters, which means that it’s only good for the punching range. The big question here that comes up is that if he fights someone like Mcgregor who can lead with kicks, Aldo’s counters in the punching range may not meet the range of someone who leads with the kicking range. It is most likely that if you try to counter with punching range against an opponent who approaches you with kicking range, you run a good risk of eating the kicks.

When Mendes fought Aldo, he had rarely fired off any head kicks so Aldo got comfortable countering with his punching range. Here Mendes threw a kick while Aldo tried to answer with a check hook that didn’t meet the range of Mendes’ kick range.

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Aldo’s lead hand failing to meet the range of Mendes’ head kick

For a more extreme example of this concept, see here Rumble’s opponents is expecting to counter rumble with punching range but rumble instead answers with kicking range, thus rendering the check hook’s range useless.

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Anthony Johnson countering a check hook with an attack from the kicking range

Aldo has to be careful not to get too comfortable with a singular range for countering.

For part 3, we’re going to take a look at what Aldo does against an opponent with larger reach.

Part 3 here


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