UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo Jr. cemented his spot near the top of MMA’s pound-for-pound rankings with his two most recent victories, which saw him destroy Chad Mendes in highlight reel fashion at UFC 142 before winning a hard-fought battle against Frankie Edgar at UFC 156.
The impressive wins leave the always-dangerous Aldo at the top of an increasingly more talented division. As worthy contenders battle it out for the next shot at the champ, Aldo will defend his belt against Chan Sung Jung in UFC 163’s main event from the HSBC Arena from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil this Saturday. Betting odds have “Scarface” as a massive favorite to retain the belt in his homeland, and for good reason.
Because of his dominance in defending the 145 lb. belt that he first won from Mike Brown in late 2009, many have speculated that Aldo will make the move up to the UFC lightweight division in order to try his hand against larger opponents.
Indeed, Aldo’s weight cut to 145 lbs. hasn’t always been the easiest, as he appeared drained in his two initial UFC appearances against Mark Hominick and Kenny Florian . However, even if he destroys “The Korean Zombie” in typical Jose Aldo fashion, is the time still right for a move up to 155?
Although he was initially scheduled to face Anthony Pettis at UFC 163, Aldo may be best served by sticking around in the division that made him famous in the first place. After all, featherweight is quickly becoming one of the most stacked divisions in the UFC. Fighters like Cub Swanson, Ricardo Lamas, and of course Frankie Edgar are all motivated to lock down a shot at dethrone the division’s dynamic king.
But that's no easy task, and Aldo has defeated both Swanson and Edgar before. If they continue to string quality victories together, it’ll be tough to deny either of them another title shot. Swanson and Edgar have been rumored to face off on the main card of November 17th’s UFC 167 event, where Georges St-Pierre will defend the belt against Johny Hendricks for the welterweight title. That featherweight tilt would be an awesome co-main event, serving as a title eliminator. Lamas definitely deserves his day in the cage opposite Aldo.
So while lightweight will always be an enticing possibility for the surging Aldo, now is not the time to make the move in my eyes. Featherweight is a hot division right now, and there’s no better place for Aldo to be than at the top of an illustrious mountain. What will be next for the wrecking machine that “Scarface” has become?
Outer Photo: Gary A. Vasquez, USA Today Sports Images