Merab Dvalishvili snapped Jose Aldo’s impressive three-fight win streak at UFC 278. The Georgian contender completely outworked Aldo in the fight, negating any attempt at offense the Brazillian tried to muster. Even though Aldo’s takedown defense was as immaculate as ever, Dvalishvili’s constant pressure ultimately kept him on the back foot for the majority of the fight.
While the first round was competitive, with two judges giving it to Aldo, the rest of the fight was a one-sided affair. Although Aldo managed to stuff a whopping 16 takedown attempts by Dvalishvili, he simply didn’t have an answer for the Georgian’s pace, who outstruck him by a significant margin (135 to 59).
In the end, the former UFC featherweight champion was far too complacent, looking completely out of character during the bout. With the loss, Aldo’s championship aspirations in the bantamweight division are most likely over. The question arises, what’s next for the greatest featherweight of all time?
Aldo’s Bantamweight Title Run
Aldo had a tough start to his bantamweight tenure. After dropping down a weight class for the first time in his UFC career, back-to-back losses against Marlon Moraes and Petr Yan put the Brazilian veteran in a tough spot. The loss against Yan at UFC 251, which saw both fighters compete for the vacant UFC Bantamweight Championship, was widely regarded as the toughest one of Aldo’s storied career.
After the severe beating against Yan, rumors started to pop up about possible retirement. But Aldo went on to surprise many, lifting the veil of doubt that loomed over his future with the UFC. With consecutive victories against contenders Marlon Vera, Pedro Munhoz, and Rob Font, Jose Aldo put himself back into title contention.
While all three of his victories came via decision, Aldo did show a huge improvement in his boxing against some of the division’s strongest fighters. Heading into UFC 278, a shot at the title seemed just within reach for the Brazilian.
All of that makes his loss to Dvalishvili even more detrimental. Merab on the other hand did himself no favors after publically shutting down any chance of taking on his teammate and current bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling. The Georgian also revealed that Aldo strongly hinted at retirement during their post-fight embrace.
“When he was down and I [went] to shake his hand and tell him, ‘Thank you so much for the fight,’ and I go to respect him, he was down, and I tried to help him, and he was telling me, he said, ‘That means this is my last fight, because it was my last run to title,’” Dvalishvili told The MMA Hour. “And then he said, ‘I guess I’m done.’”
Jose Aldo vs. Dominick Cruz – The Dream Fight?
While Aldo has not officially made any statements about his possible retirement, Dvalishvili’s words could be a major clue about his future within the sport. While his bantamweight champion aspirations are more than likely over, Aldo still has one fight left on his UFC contract. And truth be told, he might want to go out with a bang. The fight that makes most sense currently has been the dream of UFC fans for almost a decade, a bout against Dominick Cruz.
Both Aldo and Cruz have etched their names in MMA history, and are regarded as the greatest fighters in the history of their respective divisions. Both fighters are also coming off losses in their last fights. With their title runs prematurely over, the matchup could be a great way for both to finish off their respective careers.
Be as it may, Jose Aldo is definitely one of the greatest mixed-marital artists that have ever stepped into the octagon. The Brazilian has captured the hearts of many during his eighteen-year-long career. Considered by most to be the greatest featherweight of all time, Aldo was a champion in two different organizations (WEC and UFC). Furthermore, he holds the records for most wins (10) and most title defenses (7) in the UFC’s featherweight division. Whatever his decision may be, his legacy is one only a select few can rival.