The Jose Aldo bantamweight experiment didn’t end with the former UFC featherweight champ’s hand raised, but still has to be considered a success when compared with pre-fight expectations. Aldo came up just short in a highly-competitive, split decision loss to Marlon Moraes in their clash at UFC 245 from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
It took just seconds for Moraes (23-6-1) to land a big head kick, immediately causing Aldo (28-6) to stumble. Aldo got himself back into the fight, though, and landed a cracking right hand about a minute later. Aldo amped up his pressure as the round wore on, coming forward constantly and putting Moraes on his back foot, even when the former champ wasn’t firing with strikes. Aldo landed a big flurry that seemed to hurt Moraes toward the end of Round 1, but Moraes scored a big takedown to end the round.
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Despite concerns the weight cut for Aldo would sap his energy — and even worries it could be dangerous to his long-term health — he continued to pressure Moraes throughout the fight. Aldo was the more active fighter through the second round and seemed to easily shake off every strike Moraes landed after the cracking head kick in the opening seconds of the fight.
Moraes never went away in the fight but looked frustrated as the contest wore on. With Aldo’s pressure at such a constantly high level, Moraes was only fighting in spots. In Round 3, Moraes did start to find success again, landing some heavy power shots that marked up Aldo’s face and left the fight up in the air heading to the judges’ scorecards. In the end, Moraes took the fight by split decision, with announced scores of 29-28, 28-29 and 29-28. Boos rained down as Moraes’ hand was raised, and the fighters embraced after the fight with Aldo visibly frustrated.
“I didn’t expect him to have this energy,” Moraes said after the win. “He had energy. What a good fight. He looked great. He felt powerful.”
Moraes rebounded from a knockout loss to bantamweight champ Henry Cejudo in his most recent fight, a loss that snapped a four-fight winning streak for the former WSOP champ. Aldo has now lost two consecutive bouts and is 3-5 since 2015. If tonight’s performance against one of bantamweight’s elite is any indication, the former champ’s future is indeed at 135 pounds.