UFC Vegas: Jose Aldo continues to shock at bantamweight with Rob Font win
Josh McNally

When featherweight legend Jose Aldo announced at age 33 that he was moving down a weight class to bantamweight, it felt as if the countdown until his retirement had begun. Then, when he made his debut at 135lbs, looking like he was going to disintegrate while on the scales, visibly weaker in his first losing bout to Marlon Moraes and almost pounded into dust by Petr Yan in his second, the tick of the clock got louder.

But then he beat Marlon Vera at the tail end of 2020 and, after eight months off, his longest in years, returned in August 2021 to comprehensively outbox Pedro Munhoz over five rounds. Suddenly the narrative changed; Aldo was no longer considered a fighter starving himself to death just to extend his career and instead it seemed like he had genuinely begun a second chapter - all he had to do was beat a top contender to prove it.

Following his demolition at the hands of current interim bantamweight champion Yan, Aldo's spot in the UFC bantamweight rankings always seemed slightly inflated, so to legitimize his fifth place spot, he was matched with fourth-ranked Rob Font.

Though fairly inactive lately due to injuries, to himself and potential opponents, Font went into the main event of UFC Vegas on a four fight win streak that began with a 2018 win over current Bellator bantamweight champion Sergio Pettis and a shutout decision win over former champ Cody Garbrandt in May.

Jose Aldo hits Rob Font with a right straight. /Zuffa

Jose Aldo hits Rob Font with a right straight. /Zuffa

Excepting the one-punch KO loss to Conor McGregor that cost him the feathwerweight championship at UFC 194, way back in December 2015, Aldo only ever loses to fighters that outwork him, overloading him with constant forwards pressure and volume striking.

Font clearly went into this bout with that in mind and from the opening bell tagged Aldo with quick one-two and one-two-three combinations. According to, in Round 1 alone he attempted 90 and landed 36 significant strikes compared to Aldo's 26 of 41. And yet, as the final minute approached, Aldo leveled his foe with a blistering straight and spent the remainder of the round hunting a ground-and-pound KO finish.

That kind of strength was absent from Aldo ever since he shed the 10lbs necessary to fight in this smaller division. It's return was a shock to Font, who clearly wasn't expecting it. In Round 2, he was both more cautious of the range while also sticking to his gameplan of pouring it on; he upped his strike total to 48.

But the same thing happened again and in the midst of stinging Aldo, he was rocked by a hard straight punch right through the middle of his guard. This time he was more prepared, so he didn't get so badly stung, but it did show Aldo that his heavy hands were enough to crack Font at will and he switched from being defensively minded to going on the attack.

In the third stanza, he began working in calf kicks too. At featherweight, Aldo was famous for his leg kicks; when he moved down, they totally disappeared from his talents with a lot of speculation that he was too frail to chop down his opponents. Very quickly these kicks – the exact kind that Dustin Poirier used to level Conor McGregor in their fights earlier this year – took their toll on Font. By the fourth round, Aldo had limited his opponent's lower body mobility as well as proved he was dangerous enough with his fists to limit Font to only 10.

Jose Aldo (L) and Rob Font trade punches. /Zuffa

Jose Aldo (L) and Rob Font trade punches. /Zuffa

He should have been clearly winning – in many ways, he was. But the damage he was accumulating while taking Font's combos had done so much to his right eye that he was almost hanging by a thread; one solid hook would have caused it to swell shut prompting a doctor's stoppage.

Font went in for the kill and spent the final five minutes of the fight going for power shots. Each time he looked to be on the verge of getting the finish he needed, Aldo would counter with his defensive boxing and leave Font stunned, and often literally floored.

Neither man could get a finish so the fight went to the judges. Jose Aldo won by unanimous decision (45-50, 45-50, 46-49) and almost looked like the man he was five years and one weight class ago. Father Time is undefeated in the UFC, but it may be a while yet before he gets his win over Aldo.

[Header: Jose Aldo celebrates on his coach's shoulders following his unanimous decision win over Rob Font in the bantamweight main event of UFC Vegas: Aldo vs. Font at the UFC Apex Facility in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. on December 5, 2021. /Zuffa]

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