As champ, Jose Aldo playing it safer

Saturday night won't be remembered as Jose Aldo's most memorable as champion; yet as title defenses go, he'll take it to the bank every time.

Part of the requirement of holding a UFC belt is facing all comers. All styles. All disciplines. And so far, through a gauntlet of wrestlers and strikers, no one has come up with a blueprint to beat Aldo.

Aldo hasn't suffered his Chael Sonnen moment, where all of a sudden the rest of the world believes they know how to trip up Anderson Silva because someone showed them the way.

The truth is, by the time he's done, Aldo could be looked at as better than Silva. More gifted athletically, even. And considering the featherweight champion is only 26, crazy as it is to type this, he's just now come into his own.

This is the start of the prime of his career, one that has thus far been perfect save a mistake in 2005 in a lightweight contest. At featherweight, Aldo has no peers. At 155, which is where he could head depending on what UFC wants to do with him, "Junior" would be far more susceptible to that blueprint-defining loss. That's why he needs to remain at 145 for the time being.

Never mind that worthy challengers are in the queue. They are. This has more to do with how good Aldo can be over the long haul. How wide his reach in MMA. How deep a connection he shares with fans. How dominant he is against dangerous opposition.

He's never been a safety-first fighter. That's not Aldo's M.O. But as he said postfight, he's the champion, he's got something to lose compared to the men vying for that honor, and these days he may look for safer routes to victory.

No more jumping double-knee KO in the opening 10 seconds of a fight?

It would be a shame if Aldo neutered his game in the name of retaining the title. But this seems to be what's happening.