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04th Dec 2017

If Jose Aldo moves up to 155, a former champion vs former champion affair would make sense

He doesn't have to become a gatekeeper

Ben Kiely

Jose Aldo

Jose Aldo is in a position he has never been in before.

For the first time since joining the UFC, Jose Aldo is out of the featherweight title picture. After being finished two times in six months by Max Holloway, it’s time for a fresh face to challenge the Hawaiian’s 145 lb throne.

Holloway is riding a remarkable 12-fight win-streak, but his latest victory was only his first defence of the undisputed crown. He clearly cares about his legacy and the meritocracy of the sport, so if he manages to beat Frankie Edgar, we could see him at the zenith for a very long time. This was the plan he touched upon in his post-fight press conference.

“He’s (Aldo) the greatest of all time. He’s got eight title defences, I’ve got to catch up.”

Holloway celebrated his 26th birthday two days after beating Jose Aldo senseless in Detroit. Despite having 22 professional fights and three losses under his belt, he hasn’t amassed much damage in his career.

He has only been finished once, a submission defeat to Dustin Poirier in his promotional debut. Since dropping back-to-back decisions to Dennis Bermudez and Conor McGregor respectively, he hasn’t looked even remotely close to being bested inside the Octagon.

Count out Edgar at your peril, but if the former UFC lightweight champion becomes another impressive scalp for Holloway’s trophy cabinet, it leaves Aldo in a difficult position. If Holloway can continue to improve and dispatch contenders as he edges towards his athletic prime, it could take ‘Scarface’ an absolute age of defeating hungry up-and-comers on the cusp of title shots to secure a third fight against Holloway.

A way to avoid becoming the featherweight version of Joseph Benavidez would be moving up to lightweight. Considering Aldo’s well-documented struggles to cut down to 145 lb, this could be the ideal method to revitalise his career.

Seeing how successful the likes of Robert Whittaker, Kelvin Gastelum and Rafael dos Anjos have been after moving up in weight should inspire confidence, but the most-populated division in the UFC is a very unforgiving landscape to traverse. Sending Aldo into shark-infested waters following back-to-back knockout losses may be unwise, but there is one potential Fight Night headliner waiting for the Brazilian that would make a whole bunch of sense.

It may finally be time for that exciting Jose Aldo vs Anthony Pettis bout. While it’s not as sexy a contest as it promised to be when it was being targeted as UFC 163’s headliner, it would make a ton of sense for this match-up to be Aldo’s introduction to the 155 lb division.

Both fighters are in very different places than they were when this fight was first being talked about. Losing four of his last five lightweight contests means Pettis isn’t within an ass’s roar of a title fight for the foreseeable future. However, he hasn’t exactly looked terrible in those defeats which came to dos Anjos, Eddie Alvarez, Edson Barboza and Dustin Poirer, all monsters in their own right.

As for Aldo, there’s no shame in losing to Holloway and McGregor. Aside from those three fights, he has looked sensational every time he has entered the cage. Even though he was outclassed by ‘Blessed’ at UFC 218, he showed enough to prevent a huge clamouring from fans to get him to hang up his gloves for good.

Both men are coming off losses, both are former UFC champions and both are still big names in the sport. There is also that added history of their previous booking falling through all those moons ago. There seems to be more to gain than to lose for all parties involved this match-up.