Jose Aldo’s explosive knockout power got him a title shot, but the 23-year-old Brazilian still had some questioning his all-around game.
His performance against Mike Brown on Wednesday night answered many of those doubts.
A second-round knockout of the champion in the main event of the World Extreme Cagefighting card at the Palms also gave him the featherweight title.
Aldo showcased his power in a first round that Brown survived, in part, by clinching Aldo against the cage.
He had no such luck in the second round. Aldo got Brown to the ground, mounted him and quickly took his back.
Aldo then flattened Brown out and rained punches down on the champion until the fight was stopped at the 1:20 mark. Despite breaking down momentarily in the cage after the win, Aldo insists his career is just beginning.
“It’s just a result of all the hard work since I started training,” he said of the emotion, through a translator. “We don’t stop there. I’m going to keep working and keep improving.”
That’s a scary thought for the rest of the WEC’s premier division.
“He’s not easy to beat. He’s one of those guys that you better have you’re ‘A’ game on if you want to beat him, and I didn’t have my ‘A’ game tonight,” Brown said. “He’s world class, and now he’s got the belt.”
Aldo also erased any concerns the organization had about the young fighter.
“The discussion in our (office) was how good is he?” WEC general manager Reed Harris said. “Tonight, he proved it. We’re all very impressed by Mr. Aldo.”
Aldo was able to overcome one of the most powerful 145-pounders in the sport.
“I felt his strength, but it was nothing I couldn’t handle,” he said. “Everything, thank God, just worked the way I wanted.”
Brown appeared to be upset with the stoppage but later said he agreed with the referee’s decision.
“I wasn’t improving position,” he said. “I wasn’t hurt, but I was caught in a bad position, and I wasn’t getting out of it anytime soon.”
Also, Manny Gamburyan won a unanimous decision over Leonard Garcia to get his name into the discussion of possible first title defenses for Aldo.
Garcia pushed the action with his superior stand-up skills in the first round, but Gamburyan’s grappling took over the final 10 minutes.
“I heard before the fight that he said I would be scared to stand up with him,” Gamburyan said of trading with Garcia in the early going. “I’m not scared of anyone, but my corner said to take him down and try to submit him.”
In the third round, Garcia stood in the center of the cage, dropped his hands and began imploring Gamburyan to trade punches. Gamburyan responded by throwing a punch that set up a takedown.
“He was talking trash, and he said, ‘Come on, let’s do it,’ ” Gamburyan said. “But in my mind I have a game plan.”
He got Garcia to the ground and controlled position for the rest of the decisive round. Gamburyan won a unanimous decision but would have lost the fight had he l ost the round.
Rob McCullough, a former lightweight champion, lost a stand-up battle to Karen Darabedyan, who was making his WEC debut.
Contact reporter Adam Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-224-5509.