Take a journey back in time with me for a moment.
The year is 2014.
The day is October 25.
Jose Aldo has just finished off Chad Mendes for a second time, dominating him in the main event of UFC 179 to remain featherweight champion.
The victory was the 25th in 26 fights for Aldo and his seventh consecutive UFC title defense.
From 2009 when the Brazilian won the WEC title with a second round finish of Mike Brown to that night in October vs. Mendes, Aldo was viewed as the greatest featherweight of all-time. In fact, many had him near the top of the pound-for-pound rankings, with some even placing him No. 1.
After taking almost a year off due to injuries and other issues, Aldo stepped back inside the Octagon in December 2015 and was knocked out by Conor McGregor in just 13 seconds.
Thirteen seconds was all it took for McGregor to take away that mystic of the legend of Aldo.
Instead of coming out and trying to rebound inside the Octagon, Aldo found a hole and crawled inside of it. He didn’t return to action until the summer of 2016 when he defeated Frankie Edgar to become the interim featherweight champion.
Many, though, looked down at the inclusion of the title, as McGregor had just finished him months earlier. When McGregor went on to win the lightweight belt, Aldo became the 145-pound champion all by himself once again – but that just never caught on.
This past June, Max Holloway dominated Aldo, claiming the belt and adding another glaring mark on a spectacular resume.
It’s hard to ignore someone dropping you with a single punch in 13 seconds and another fighter finishing you inside of three rounds. But maybe we should have.
Aldo’s legacy features incredible wins over the likes of Edgar (twice), Mendes (twice), Ricardo Lamas, Chan Sung Jung, Kenny Florian, Urijah Faber and Cub Swanson. These are both key featherweights and fighters who decided to move down to challenge Aldo.
He was unbeaten from 2006-2015 and was never really threatened during that time.
Did the rest of the division catch up to Aldo? Did he stop training hard because of a lack of competition?
This Saturday night at UFC 218, Aldo gets the chance to regain a stronghold of the featherweight world when he meets Holloway for the belt. A win by the 31-year-old will solidify a Hall of Fame-worthy career and should silence those that doubt his placing on the all-time list.