For Jose Aldo it all began in a ring in Manaus.
Still a month shy of his 18th birthday, Aldo made his professional MMA debut against another newbie, Mario Bigola, at Eco Fight Championships 1 on August 10th 2004. It was immediately obvious that the youngster with the distinctively scarred face and long, muscular physique had a talent for spectacular violence.
Wearing board shorts eerily similar to the pair that future foe Conor McGregor would pull from the Penneys discount rack ahead of his own rushed amateur debut less than three years later in Dublin, Aldo needed just 18 seconds to notch his first victory. A right high-kick that wrapped around Bigola’s head did the damage. A subsequent soccer-kick that Aldo instinctively launched while Bigola lay on the floor seemed, luckily, to make only the slightest contact before a thankfully fleet-footed referee made the merciful intervention and ensured that no further punts were attempted.
Bigola would, understandably, never fight again. Aldo on the other hand would go on to do fairly well for himself, bouncing back from a setback in his eighth pro fight to become the WEC featherweight champion in November of 2009, later the first UFC featherweight champion, the pound for pound king, and one of MMA’s most feared men.
Losses, of course, followed. The infamous 13-second destruction at the hands of the aforementioned McGregor ended Aldo’s decade of dominance in December of 2015 and Max Holloway consigned the Brazilian to a second ever UFC defeat earlier this year.
Aldo, however, will have a chance to avenge the latter defeat and regain the featherweight title when he faces Holloway at UFC 218 next weekend. If he manages to do so, Aldo will enter his third reign as UFC featherweight champion.