For some time now, Jose Aldo, the reigning kingpin of the featherweight division, has been pegged to move up to 155 pounds and contend for the title.
As one of the most dynamic fighters in the sport today, many have said Aldo could become the first man ever to hold championship belts in three divisions.
That’s no surprise, really. Aldo has proven to be far and away the best fighter at featherweight, to the point where no one really wonders if he’s going to win; they just tune in to see how he’s going to win.
Now, in an ironic yet wonderful turn of events, it looks like Anthony Pettis, one of the best lightweights in the world, is going to drop down to 145 and vie for Aldo’s belt (in August) in another “superfight” that could wind up being nothing short of incredible, at least on paper.
It looks like if Aldo will not go to the 155 mountain just yet, Dana White will bring the mountain to him.
And that is where things get very interesting.
Once Aldo and Pettis step onto the mat and stare across the cage at one another, it will be the second time in a row that Aldo has fought a former lightweight.
Against Edgar, Aldo, while not blowing Edgar out of the water, didn’t look like he was really suffering from any physical disadvantages against the former lightweight champion.
But Frankie Edgar was always a small lightweight, and he was probably still small as a featherweight compared to Aldo.
Anthony Pettis, on the other hand, could end up enjoying a true strength advantage once he rehydrates from the weight cut.
Should Aldo defeat Pettis, then the question won’t be if he should move up, but when.
Ideally, Aldo would rack up six or seven title defenses of his UFC featherweight belt before going up and fighting for the lightweight strap. Or, he could do something even more daring and historic…
He could become the only fighter to be a reigning champion in two divisions at the same time—with emphasis on reigning.
Of course, there are some problematic issues to deal with in such a scenario, the biggest of which would be going up and down in weight and the cuts that come along with it.
But Aldo could handle that, given his youth and his frame. When you look at Aldo as a physical specimen, he seems ideally suited to straddle the line between featherweight and lightweight.
It would be perhaps the single greatest accomplishment any fighter in the history of the sport has ever made; considering Aldo’s relative youth and amazing skills—not to mention his style of fighting—and you begin to realize that the idea is far more than novelty; it’s a very real possibility.
And you also have a string of great fights that come with that; Aldo vs. Nate Diaz, Benson Henderson, a second bout with Pettis (at lightweight), Gray Maynard and many others, plus any featherweights who come knocking at the door.
It would be a stunning achievement and every title defense at featherweight and lightweight would be a media event; people love to see a man do exceptional things.
Dan Henderson is the last man to hold two belts in different divisions at the same time (in Pride) but he never really got the chance to establish title reigns in both divisions.
In boxing, the last man to do this was Sugar Ray Leonard, but in the sport of boxing, defending belts in different divisions is a nightmare given that they are usually titles from different organizations (the WBC, WBA, IBF, NABF), and each organization has different list of No. 1 contenders.
One organization then strips the belt from the champion because he was fighting the other No. 1 contender for the other belt and the rest of it falls apart due to nothing more than boxing politics.
In the UFC, that wouldn’t be a problem.
The sheer amount of attention Aldo would bring to the sport if he was able to establish himself as a reigning lightweight champion while maintaining himself as the reigning featherweight champion cannot be estimated or fully appreciated until it happens.
And that is something that needs to happen if there is a fighter capable of bringing the dream to life.
And Aldo is capable of doing this.
So, should Aldo move to lightweight?
Yes, he should, and he should bring the featherweight title with him, maintaining one kingdom while conquering another.