After the UFC 169 post-fight media blitz surrounding the oft rumored but never materializing Jose Aldo vs. Anthony Pettis super fight, it was looking like the UFC had built up the match-up so much that it had no other choice but to make it happen.
That was far from the case, however, as the UFC re-signed former Strikeforce lightweight champ Gilbert Melendez to a lucrative deal yesterday, booking “El Nino” as Anthony Pettis’ opposing coach on the upcoming season of TUF 20. Melendez will square off with “Showtime” for the belt at the show’s end, putting Aldo vs. Pettis on the backburner for the time being.
That leaves Aldo without an opponent for the near future, but the UFC featherweight champ isn’t concerned with those details. Despite falling under a ton of criticism from UFC President Dana White for his dominant yet slightly apprehensive decision win over Ricardo Lamas at UFC 169, “Junior” thought he fought a great bout. Speaking at press conference in Brazil, Aldo said he simply cannot destroy every top flight challenger that is put in front of him:
“Everybody talks about this. I never fought so well like in my last fight. I attacked him the whole time. I did my best. We need to know how to handle the criticism. You dedicate and suffer a lot to showcase your technique and ability, things that few people can do, and some people say you’re laying back. It’s tough, but I don’t care about this.
UFC is bigger (than WEC) and everybody knows me today. I don’t think I have slowed down. I may be more strategic, but offensive as always. I attacked a lot in my last fight. We always try the knockout but it’s hard to get it if the opponent always runs away.
If you lose, no one will remember you, but if you’re the champion they will always remember you. I want to keep winning, no matter what.” – Via MMA Fighting
Aldo did fight well against Lamas, but White thought he could have finished the bout in the second round. Regardless, Aldo is in the precarious position of trying to retain his belt (and all of the fame and recognition that goes with it) while simultaneously looking for new and innovative ways to finish fights.
Fighting in the WEC, he built up a highlight reel so vicious that the bar was set extremely high, and now fans and media alike are surprised when he goes to another decision in the octagon.
Either way, the champ knows what he has to do to keep the belt wrapped around his waist, and he doesn’t care if he drops a spot or two in the pound-for-pound rankings:
“The ranking is f–king useless, and I don’t care about it or anything people put on (about it). The best pound-for-pound fighter is (Cain) Velasquez because he beats all of them. If they put him against me, he’d beat me. That’s how it works for me. The best is that one that beats everybody. I don’t care about the rankings.”
Finishes or not, there’s no doubt that Aldo is on a short list of fighters who could legitimately be labeled the world’s best pound-for-pound fighter.
With his Nova Uniao teammate Renan Barao finishing top-ranked opponents left and right, has Aldo’s status declined due to his lack of impressive victories?
Photo: Joe Camporeale for USA TODAY Sports