What does Jose Aldo have left in the tank?

It's not easy being the king. It's even harder trying to regain the throne.

13 seconds.

That number will forever be etched into the mind of former featherweight king Jose Aldo. He was the top dog in a weight class that featured some of the most exciting fighters in the WEC and the UFC, and his rule seemed to be something that would last forever. His blend of speed and precision striking reeked havoc on contenders that would spend their careers fighting tooth and nail for a shot at him. From Cub Swanson’s broken face in the opening seconds of their bout to the grapefruit-sized hematoma on Mark Hominick’s forehead over the duration of five rounds, Jose didn’t just beat you, he wrecked you. Guys like Urijah Faber had to be carried from the cage from the damage Jose inflicted on their extremities. It would all change in 13 seconds. 

If you could make God bleed, people would cease to believe in him

When Conor McGregor stepped in the cage with Jose Aldo, he had already won the fight. Between the initial delay in the fight and the press conferences that had rattled the champion, the Irishman was in his head. The delay only gave McGregor more time to chip away at the psyche and the confidence of the man on the throne in the featherweight division. Jose showed an unusual aggressiveness from the opening bell, and that was an unwise move against a guy with big-time power and was gigantic for the weight class. 

McGregor took the scale at featherweight looking like a skeleton, but after rehydrating, he was a monster against the smaller opposition. Jose and Conor both landed at the same time 13 seconds into that fight, but the shot that usually puts other featherweights out instead bounced right off the bigger McGregor. Conor's shot creamed Aldo, rendering him almost instantly unconscious. Just like that, the aura was gone. The video of Aldo crying in the locker room post-fight went viral, and the man that put the wood to the featherweight division through seven title defenses had become shockingly mortal.

Picking up the pieces

Determined to get back what he had lost, Jose immediately pined for a rematch with McGregor. Conor however, had other ideas and campaigned for a title shot at lightweight and also was looking to get into the boxing world. Jose taunted him mercilessly over Twitter, doing everything he could to draw McGregor back into the cage the same way that Conor had dragged him in the first time around. By UFC standards, a long-reigning champ usually got a rematch immediately following the dispatching of his belt (see Weidman vs Silva, GSP vs Serra, Penn vs Edgar), but Dana and Conor were already moving on from the Aldo fight and onto bigger and more profitable escapades. 

Jose would instead have to settle for an interim title shot with Frankie Edgar at UFC 200 and won a cautious, yet clear cut decision. He would have to defend that paper title against Max Holloway soon after, and things again fell apart for the former champ. After looking like his usual blistering self to start the fight, failing to dispatch Holloway early gave the challenger confidence as the fight wore on, and Aldo began to fade. The pressure from Holloway also showed on Aldo as he began to back pedal far too often, sapping him of his power and forcing him to counterpunch off his back leg. He also abandoned his leg attack and began to head hunt with someone who was landing twice as many shots as he was. The former champ eventually wilted and found himself again on the wrong end of a TKO. The rematch with McGregor had now faded long into the setting sun. 

Rematch with Ricardo Lamas

Many MMA heads, including myself, had expected the Holloway loss to end the glorious career of Jose Aldo. He had proven to be, at one time, the greatest featherweight fighter in the world. He has nothing left to prove, and following a second stoppage loss, should consider his health and wellbeing before fighting again. Jose however, has other ideas and does not plan to leave the octagon on his back. He has signed on to a rematch with Ricardo Lamas, a fighter he beat by unanimous decision back at UFC 169. Lamas is no slouch, as he has two stoppage victories in a row since a bad loss to Holloway. His last win was against the surging Jason Knight, a fighter as mean as they come and one who had been disposing of opponents like swatting gnats. Lamas will look to avenge his loss to the former champ and is brimming with confidence in his stand up game coming into this fight. 

The question will be, what is motivating Aldo at this point in his career? Is he fighting to climb back up the ladder to the top of the weight class? A win against Lamas in impressive fashion could earn him another shot at Holloway. Is he fighting to end his historic career on a high note? Knocking out a guy like Ricardo and riding off into the sunset would be about as happy of an ending as you can have given the state of affairs at featherweight. Is he fighting to achieve his pipe dream of getting Conor in the cage one more time? With McGregor seeming to be involved in everything but the featherweight division, this is about as long of a shot as possible. Whatever is making Jose get back into the octagon, he will need to rekindle the "Scarface" of old. After two stoppage losses in his last three fights, his back is pressed firmly against the wall. Perhaps Jose is getting back into the cage to prove that "13 seconds" will not be what defines a career that has been so much more than that. 

What's the story with Jose Aldo now? What happens if he defeats Ricardo Lamas?

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