Jose Aldo turned his attention to a rematch with Conor McGregor after claiming the interim featherweight title with an unanimous decision over Frankie Edgar at UFC 200 in Las Vegas.
McGregor was cageside at the sold-out T-Mobile Arena to see the Brazilian return to form in in a rematch of a 2013 bout with Edgar.
Taking things as they come has been Aldo’s modus operandi since suffering an embarrassing 13-second knockout to McGregor in December.
The first fighter to hold the UFC gold at 145lbs once again got the better of the former UFC lightweight champion throughout a masterful five round affair in which the American’s wrestling was shutdown, and his face was battered with heavy counter punches.
Aldo moved and planted as he pleased, shucking off Edgar’s pressure and takedown attempts at will. Edgar came into the contest on a roll, having won five straight since the loss to Aldo three years ago, but he simply did not have enough to handle his 29-year-old opponent.
In a departure from his usual fare, Aldo rarely unleashed low kicks – even with his corner begging for him to utilise perhaps the most effective weapon in his significant arsenal.
Instead Aldo relied on precision counter striking, pivoting and parrying, and an almost unimaginable ability to toss Edgar aside whenever the New Jersey native tried to engage him with grappling.
After scores were announced (the judges saw it 49-46, 49-46 and 48-47), Aldo spoke about his love for his trainer Andre Pederneiras and his desire to step back into the cage with McGregor.
“Frankie is a great athlete,” Aldo said through a translator. “I respect everyone. But I have one goal and that is to beat this guy [McGregor] and you can bet the next time I’m in here I will beat him.”
McGregor is due to face Nate Diaz, who he lost to in March, in a welterweight bout on August 20th and after that he is expected to drop down two weight classes to meet Aldo.
The main event of the night saw Brazil's Amanda Nunes claim a stunning first-round submission win over Miesha Tate to claim the women's bantamweight title.
Despite its brevity, the fight at the sold-out T-Mobile Arena easily lived up to its billing as the main event.
Tate was rocked early by punches from strike specialist Nunes, who switched her attention to submission attempts when the fight went to the mat and quickly finished Tate with a rear naked choke after 3:16 of the first round.
It was the same submission Tate used to claim the title from Holly Holm in March, and the belt has now changed hands three times in nine months since Holm beat Ronda Rousey.
“Oh my God, ten years of my life working for this moment! I feel amazing!” an elated Nunes said after being presented with the belt.
The bout between Tate and Nunes was elevated after a positive doping test saw light heavyweight Jon Jones withdraw from his title fight against champion Daniel Cormier.
Cormier was instead pitted against former middleweight champ Anderson Silva, widely regarded as one of the greatest fighters in the sport, who stepped in with two days' notice.
Former Olympic wrestler Cormier wasted no time taking the fight to the mat where he utilised his skills to dominate his 41-year-old Brazilian opponent on the way to a comfortable victory on the scorecards.
Popular former UFC heavyweight champion and current WWE wrestler Brock Lesnar returned to the octagon after a four-year absence to defeat Mark Hunt after three tough rounds.
In the other heavyweight bout on the card, Cain Velasquez scored a TKO victory over Travis Brown, the referee calling a halt with just three seconds left in the first round.
(Guardian service and agencies)