5 of the best featherweight fights in MMA history

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
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3. Jose Aldo vs. Chad Mendes 2 for the UFC featherweight title at UFC 179

Jose Aldo makes the list again but this time on the winning side. Heading into this bout, Aldo was undefeated for a decade, having held the UFC’s featherweight title since the inception of the weight class in 2010. He was literally unstoppable at this time and he was starting to lap the division in a similar fashion that Alex Volkanovski is doing right now.

Chad Mendes was once of the guys that Aldo was hoping to lap. Having fought each other for the title in the exact same venue of Rio de Janeiro two years ago, Aldo had knocked Mendes out cold at the end of the first to retain his title, leading to the famous post-fight moment when the Brazilian champion ran into the crowd to celebrate with his hometown fans.

Things were different in 2014. Mendes had said he had improved exponentially since their first encounter and was willing to go back to Rio to try and snatch the title. He was on an impressive five-fight win streak but still, nobody really gave him a chance against Aldo.

What we saw was perhaps the very first time that Aldo had been truly tested since embarking on his legendary undefeated run. Mendes was landing hard shots, including a nasty uppercut in the third that rocked the champion, and kept Aldo guessing with footwork that resembled Frankie Edgar’s.

Aldo was not there to be teed-off on and would fire back, dropping Mendes in the first and landing hard shots throughout the fight. In the end, Aldo would get the unanimous decision win, with all judges scoring it 49-46 towards the crowd-favorite.

The scoring might show a slightly one-sided affair but make no mistake, nobody had pushed Aldo to such limits before. Even in fights were he seemed to gas out, he was never in any real danger but Mendes put it on him, setting a frantic pace throughout the whole 25 minute fight. 

It sits at three for multiple reasons. First, this was the last win from Aldo’s streak, dropping the belt to Connor McGregor in his next bout, making it a historic fight. Second, it was easily the most hurt I had seen Aldo at this point in his career and I personally had the fight scored 48-47 for Aldo by a very fine margin. Thirdly, I cannot put it any higher because the next two fights are perhaps the greatest fights I have ever watched, regardless of weight classes.

However, a list of top featherweight fights without the ‘King of Rio’ coming out on top would be an insult to his great legacy at 145 pounds.