This time last year, Anderson Silva’s popularity was by far at it’s peak in his career in Brazil. His 2012 consisted of decively walking through Chael Sonnen in their rematch, who had done nothing but bad mouth the South American country followed up by walking through Stephan Bonnar at light heavyweight, who later tested positive for banned substances. Silva was like a superman figure within MMA to the Brazilians, defeating all evil that surrounded it.
‘The Spiders’ career is now etched solely in highlights, my how quickly things can change. Back to back losses to Chris Weidman, losing his UFC middleweight title and possibly not ever going to fight again. Silva will always be an icon for MMA in his native country and will forever be a legend. However, now the country is calling on a new fighter to fill his boots and lead them in to 2014.
Brazil can no longer rely on veterans like Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira or Wanderlei Silva. Their time very much came to an end when Zuffa purchased PRIDE.
Many believed that it would be Junior Dos Santos who could do that. Everyone loves a heavyweight and when he knocked out Cain Valasquez in 64 seconds to capture the UFC heavyweight title. His follow up performance against Frank Mir also confirmed that he could very well be the future of Brazilian MMA. However as displayed in his two losses too Velasquez, JDS is not the cream of the crop in the top division and although still very popular in the country, he cannot lead it.
The crown has to go to UFC Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo. His record speaks for itself at 23-1 and has defended his WEC/UFC featherweight title seven times now.
In his most recent bout in August against Chang Sung Jung, the fight very much had the feel that Aldo now held Brazilian MMA in the palm of his hand. It was his second time fighting as champion in his motherland.
He very much meets the complete Brazilian persona – he grew up poor and spent his days playing soccer dreaming to be a professional star like so many youngsters in the country. However turned to martial arts as he was sick of being beaten up on the streets.
Even Aldo’s appeal makes him extremely marketable. His scar that sweeps the left side of his face makes him look like it is a gang related injury, where it was given to him by his sister after being thrown on a BBQ.
Aldo has the heart of a lion which Brazilians love. He comes to fight in each and every one of his bouts. His phenomenal Mauy Thai is perhaps the most ferocious in the sport and is matched by a black belt in BJJ. However Aldo is so good on his feet and stuffing takedowns, we rarely get to see this. ‘Scarface’ can take a shot too, and is more than willing to take a shot to give one.
Nevertheless, Aldo very much seems to be learning from where Anderson Silva went wrong in his career. Despite being told how great he was, Aldo seems to have ignored many of these comments.
Still fighting for honor and respect, the UFC featherweight champion has never been seen dropping his hands or showboating like his elder. This is were Aldo could become even more successful as Silva.
Although Silva was a huge star in the country, there were some who deemed his cockiness in the cage disrespectful to his opponents in a sport were respect lays the foundations for it. This was especially apparent when facing fellow countrymen like Demian Maia.
I can very much doubt we’ll see Aldo doing this. Even if he wanted to (which is highly unlikely), the way Silva was treated for it will surely make him not repeat the actions.
Aldo is set to meet Ricardo Lamas on February 1st. I can picture this as the very start of his reign to carry Brazilian MMA. At 27, he is youthful enough to still grow as a fighter, but his record and performances speak for themselves, regardless of what the doubters say.