He’s three years behind the pace of his idol, legendary heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson, but at just 23 years of age, hard punching featherweight Jose Aldo still has the opportunity to be among the youngest men to ever win a major MMA championship.
“It’s like living a dream,” Aldo said through a translator. “Since I was a child I’ve been practicing Muay Thai and Jiu-Jitsu so it’s like a dream coming true.”
The dynamic young striker looks up to Tyson for his ferocity. While you can certainly make too much of the comparison, there is something Tyson-esque about the Amazonian warrior. While many remember the laughingstock the great champion would become, boxing fans in the eighties could never forget the young heavyweight from Queens who won his first 17 fights by knockout. Aldo has been on a similar streak since joining the WEC. Starting with former SHOOTO standout Alexandre Noguiera, he’s dispatched of five consecutive opponents, the last an ultra-tough Cub Swanson with a preposterous double knee finish.
“He’s a great striker; he’s really fast, great knees,” featherweight champion Mike Brown said during a media conference call. “… I think he’s emotional. He gets excited when he wins, that’s great. You know it’s – he’s very passionate about what he does and you see true excitement in him. You know he’s ecstatic when he wins and that’s – that’s great you know I’m – I like watching him. I’m a fight fan and if I wasn’t fighting on the 18th, I’d be amped to see this fight.”
For all the Tyson talk, the fighter Aldo most resembles is the young Vitor Belfort. “The Phenom” entered the UFC octagon in the early days with blazing hands and furious power. It was only later opponents and fans would find out his heart would often wilt when the going gets tough. If anyone will put Aldo to the test, it will be Brown. More than half of Aldo’s fights have ended in the first round. How well he is prepared to go into the championship rounds could be the difference in the fight.
“How good is he? We really don’t know. He hasn’t been tested. Brown’s going to test him,” WEC President Reed Harris said in an exclusive interview. That test, if it comes, will likely be on the ground. Like Belfort, a Carlson Gracie disciple, Aldo trains with some of Jiu Jitsu’s best at Nova Uniao. He’s spent almost every second of his fighting career standing and banging. If Brown can take him down, and keep him there, the puncher’s Jiu Jitsu prowess will be the difference in becoming a champion or becoming another Brown victim.
Now there’s a problem Tyson never encountered.
WEC 44 is tomorrow night at the Palms in Las Vegas. The event will be broadcast live on Versus.