Jose Aldo defended his UFC featherweight title in front of his hometown Rio de Janeiro crowd with a devastating first-round knockout Saturday of former Cal Poly wrestler Chad Mendes.
Aldo (12-1) delivered a brutal left knee to the face of Mendes (11-1) in the waning seconds of the opening round, knocking Mendes to the ground. After quickly landing two punches to the defenseless head of Mendes, Mario Yamasaki stopped the bout one second before the bell, giving Aldo the knockout victory.
Aldo then bolted from the octagon and sprinted into the HSBC Arena crowd, which raised him on its shoulders to cap the UFC’s second event in Brazil in six months after a 13-year absence.
“This is why I do this,” Aldo said through a translator. “I’m so happy to be fighting at home.”
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Mendes repeatedly tried to take down Aldo, hoping to showcase the Sacramento-based fighter’s impressive wrestling abilities. But Aldo has perhaps the UFC’s best takedown defense, and he parried every attempt until Mendes managed to get behind Aldo late in the round.
Mendes pinned Aldo against the cage for more than a minute, but Aldo spun out of Mendes’ grip and floored the American fighter, who ducked his head right into Aldo’s knee.
“I felt the best I’ve ever felt for a fight,” Mendes said. “I was very prepared, and he just got me. Watching a lot of his fights I knew it was going to be tough to take him down. He’s very athletic.”
In the under card, Brazil’s Vitor Belfort stopped Anthony Johnson with a first-round submission, and Rousimar Palhares beat Mike Massenzio with a first-round leglock.