Well, that was a bit of a wrench in the works. Here in the wake of Aldo's decisioning of Frankie Edgar, I had the champ's roadmap all plotted out, sort of. But following the fight, there was White pulling his best Roddy Piper and changing all the questions.
It certainly makes sense at the box office; the whoosh of approval from the MMA corner of Twitter almost melted my monitor. But would it be fair to the current featherweights to wait while another lightweight transplant swooped in and stole their shot? Could Pettis check those leg kicks? Would Aldo offer to jump to 155 instead?
So yes indeed, many questions. The biggest one at hand right now, though, is what's next for Aldo? To address that question, I'm now going to take a highly novel approach and look at some actual featherweights who might be ready to challenge for the featherweight belt.
It's not the deepest in the world, I realize. But there are some interesting birds flying around at the top of that tree. How about Ricardo Lamas, for example? You know, the guy who has looked unstoppable since dropping to 145 pounds four wins ago? The guy who destroyed Erik Koch last weekend on national television? Yeah, that guy.
How about Chan Sung Jung, or as I and everyone else like to call him, "The Korean Zombie"? He was on one hell of a roll. But then he had shoulder surgery last summer, we've heard nary a word from Camp Zombie since and now that "no timetable for his return" phrase is starting to look a little ominous.
But if Zombie does come back some time before the next ice age, that 13-3 record—and 2-0 record in the UFC—may position him for Aldo. At a minimum, it should be an exciting bout; in those two UFC fights, Zombie picked up all three of the UFC's post-fight bonuses.
Other featherweights out there present interesting matchups, storylines or both, even if they don't have spotless resumes.
Hard-hitting and charismatic Cub Swanson would love to avenge the embarrassing TKO he suffered to Aldo back in 2009. Dustin Poirier is only 24, but his only loss in the past two-and-a-half years became a winner when it nabbed Fight of the Year honors from several media outlets. These two fight on Feb. 16.
Would you watch the winner of that one fight Aldo? I know I would.
But there's more. German kickboxer Dennis Siver has been gorging on nothing but blood and souls since dropping to 145. If Nik Lentz or Chad Mendes wins a couple more, maybe they're in the mix (though Mendes needs to beat someone good now). Heck, knowing the UFC, Clay Guida could be in the picture before long.
Again, I'm not saying all these guys are ready for a title shot right this minute. I'm also not saying Aldo has to fight them all before he moves up. I'm also not saying Pettis shouldn't move down, or receive a title shot upon completing such a move.
But you have to admit each one is an interesting option. It's hard to pass up Aldo-Pettis, but it looks like that might be inevitable now. To me. Lamas would be a great next fight. Give it to the rising star who's clearly earned it.