After the second showdown of Jose Aldo vs Frankie Edgar, we finally found the winner for the current featherweight division with Aldo as the new UFC interim champion. Jose Aldo returned back to some of his former roots, doing many of the things he’s always done best. He showed how much he had matured from their last fight by giving Edgar fewer opportunities to capitalize on. In their first fight, Edgar had used Aldo’s kick to secure takedowns. In the second fight, Aldo’s leg kicks were kept to a very bare minimum. In fact, his coach, Andre Pederneiras had advised Aldo to only use kicks when Edgar retreated.
The brilliance behind kicking someone who retreats or moves is that they cannot check kicks while in motion. You must be grounded to initiate many offensive or defensive techniques. This kick was only used when Edgar could not capitalize. Because of the styles in this performance, Edgar was mainly the aggressor and didn’t play on the retreat as often. Consequently, this didn’t leave Aldo much of a chance to exploit with his kicks.
The heart of this fight involved Aldo baiting Edgar forward and punishing his advancements. Since Edgar tends to pressure forward, this worked well in Aldo’s favor because of his excellent ability to fight while moving back. As a result, Aldo was able to offensively counter Edgar’s forward movement.
Counters and Angles
This was a very similar story to how the second fight turned out. Aldo embraced Edgar’s forward pressure and countered him while creating angles to ensure he wasn’t left in compromising positions for Edgar to pursue takedowns. One of the beauties behind Aldo’s counters is that he has a good sense of positional awareness. He’s always creating space to avoid takedowns or he moves around the pocket to make it difficult for Edgar to drive his weight forward on Aldo.
One effective counter Aldo used repeatedly was his retreating cross while moving back. He was able to simultaneously counter while adjusting his lead leg back in the event his lead leg is targeted for takedowns.
In this kind of movement, Aldo can throw a powerful shot from his lead hand because he switches his stance (moving the lead leg back), allowing him to transfer more of his weight across his body.
The Hooks that Keep on Giving
We even saw some of Aldo’s old signature moves like his slipping lead hook into his power hand follow up.
We didn’t see this used as much since Aldo is more inclined to use this against fighters who aren’t as likely to shoot on his stationary counter. His check hooks (pivoting hook) served a better purpose for countering while adjusting his position.
One of the difficulties of landing a simultaneous check hook counter is that you must time it as the opponent comes in. If the opponent feints or doesn’t fully commit forward, they could potentially draw your reaction out to swing and miss. It becomes a tricky game of making sure they’re in range to take your check hook. However, when you delay the check hook by slipping or blocking, it draws the opponent in. When Edgar observes a defensive move like a slip, he’s inclined to follow up, but that’s exactly what Aldo wants. He wants Edgar to come into the range of his check hook.
Aldo has had his moments of missing his check hooks by throwing them with simultaneous timing, so by using delayed timing, he’s able to give the opponent more time to come into range. When you don’t attack, the opponent feels more safe to move in, so delaying your counter helps to make the opponent feel a false sense of security to move into striking distance.
Aldo used with his delayed check hook quite often to draw Edgar in. It worked well in their first fight and had plenty of credit in the second fight. Aldo would slip and transition into a check hook. He pivots off to avoid being directly in front of Edgar.
Just as the first fight, Aldo used the same movement style to evade while push blocking to bridge that distance while in motion.
Aldo doesn’t quite lead as much as he plays the counter game. Aside from his superior takedown defense, much of his technical brilliance was benefited from his ability to play the defense counter game for this specific fight. Aldo showed some nice displays of disruptive jab, cross using rhythm to exploit openings. Check out this example.
Aldo made use of Edgar’s intentions to pressure forward by punishing his forward rhythm with an abrupt jab cross.
Aldo would sometimes go back to some of older strategies to jab at Edgar in order to bait his forward pressure, then punish him after he stepped into range.
We follow-up on part two looking at different aspects of Aldo’s game. we’ll also explore important aspects of Edgar’s game that allowed him to land offensively. Go here for Part 2.