The term “superfight” has been thrown around the MMA scene a lot over the past several months.
Potential bouts between the sport’s pound-for-pound best have certainly created a buzz, but with the majority of the matchups never materializing past the rumor stage, it appears fans will have to put those hopes on hold.
While the collection of Anderson Silva, Jon Jones and Georges St-Pierre have yet to work out a timeline for their eventual showdowns, two UFC champions, one current/one former, are set to handle business in a matter of weeks when featherweight title holder Jose Aldo squares off with Frankie Edgar at UFC 156 on Feb. 2 in Las Vegas.
During his title reign in the lightweight division, the Toms River, N.J., native showed an unbreakable resolve as he collected victories over two of the sport’s best 155-pound fighters in BJ Penn and Gray Maynard.
But after his win over “The Bully” at UFC 136, Edgar dropped back-to-back close decision losses to Benson Henderson. The final setback came at UFC 150 in Denver, and shortly after, “The Answer” decided to test the waters in the featherweight division.
Edgar was rumored to make his 145-pound debut against Ricardo Lamas, but after No. 1 contender Erik Koch dropped out of his bout with Aldo at UFC 153, the UFC tapped the former lightweight champion to step in against the Brazilian phenom.
Unfortunately, the fight would ultimately be scrapped due to Aldo suffering a foot injury. But with the buzz over the long-awaited superfight between Aldo and Edgar still high, the UFC decided to reschedule the bout for UFC 156 on Super Bowl weekend.
“Frankie Edgar is a great athlete,” Aldo told Bleacher Report through a translator. “It will be an honor to have the chance to fight against him. He is a great fighter, and if the victory comes, it will be a big achievement. As always, I’m going to keep the fight moving and trying to do my best. This fight is a chance to prove what I can do.”
In past matchups, Edgar had a definitive speed advantage. The 31-year-old has made a career out of using elusive footwork to set up both his striking and wrestling attacks.
Facing Aldo will present a unique set of challenges. The Nova Uniao product is undoubtedly one of the sport’s quickest fighters, and his diverse striking game is as dangerous as they come.
Aldo has worked to prepare for every threat Edgar brings to the table, including having friend and Edgar rival Maynard come to Brazil to train with his team at Nova Uniao on multiple occasions. While “Junior” isn’t overlooking the skills his opponent possesses, he is hoping to showcase a few new tools in this fight.
“Maynard is a great guy,” Aldo said. “It was an honor to train by his side. I also train with the Brazilian wrestling team doing a specific job for a long time. I will do my best to surprise everybody. I am training very hard. Anything can happen in a fight, and I can’t underestimate my opponent.”
Aldo is commonly referred to as one of the sport’s pound-for-pound best, and it is a status that comes with merit. The 26-year-old is in the midst of a 14-fight win streak which includes victories over top competition such as Urijah Faber, Kenny Florian, Cub Swanson and Chad Mendes.
During his title reign, the division has started to take shape. With former lightweight champions and contenders like Edgar and Clay Guida dropping down to 145 pounds, the weight class is only going to become more competitive.
It is a challenge Aldo is looking forward to, and he welcomes the lightweight fighter coming down to the featherweight division.
“Yes, for sure,” Aldo replied when asked if he was excited to see big names come down to featherweight. “I love fighting, and with the division growing, more challenges are going to appear.”
Duane Finley is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report. All quotes are obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise.