And so it goes; based on the strengths of this weekend’s bout between Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar—billed as a “Superfight”—Dana White has announced the date (August 3) that we will see Jose Aldo attempt to defend his featherweight belt against Anthony Pettis.
A lot of talk is made by Dana White in regards to making fights that make sense.
He inked Chael Sonnen to coach opposite Jon Jones and along with that gig comes a title fight for Sonnen because, White said, it “makes sense.”
Ronda Rousey and Chris Cyborg may or may not fight at a catch weight of 140 pounds, because while it would be a fan pleasing fight, it “doesn’t make sense” to White.
Now, White has signed Jose Aldo to fight Anthony Pettis, leaving a potential long-anticipated rematch with Benson Henderson in limbo.
The thought of a fight between Aldo and Pettis makes any fight fan worth his salt salivate: two men of similar size, speed and power, both great grapplers and strikers with their own right…what’s not to love?
Such a fight could be a battle for the ages and if what looks good on paper translates as expected to the stage, it could be one of the greatest fights ever.
But it shouldn’t have been made so soon.
Why, you ask? Because it could derail the hype of a possible rematch between Pettis and reigning lightweight champion Benson Henderson.
If there is one thing the UFC knows how to do, it's build the excitement of rematches around the notion that in MMA, lightning can indeed strike twice.
And perhaps nothing was more electrifying than the boot to the head Pettis landed on Henderson in their first fight.
It wasn’t just great, it was both perfection and unbelievable at the time, and that is the kind of thing that draws people in.
The sheer amount of attention the UFC media machine could build around a showdown between Pettis and Henderson cannot be ignored. They could run highlights of that kick for days and days and no one would get tired of seeing it, and they would also talk about it, frequently.
They can still do this same thing, but only if Pettis beats Aldo or looks excellent in defeat.
Anything less than that is going to take some of the air out of a rematch between Pettis and Henderson, and by proxy could take some of the luster off a potential title run by Jose Aldo at 155.
Should Aldo hand Pettis back to the lightweight division as a broken man, he’s going to have to build himself back up at 155 in order to look like he’s a worthy contender again.
If not, the lightweight belt is going to be compromised by a Pettis victory that comes so quickly after a crushing defeat at the hands of Aldo; after all, appearances are terribly important in the process of hyping a fight and maintaining a division.
And from there, Aldo claiming the lightweight title is no longer that big of a deal because he’s already beaten the Pettis before.
All of these risks, while outlandish to the knowledgeable fan, are still risks, and they are needless at that.
If the powers that be in the UFC would have waited for Pettis to fight Henderson for the lightweight title, they would have enjoyed the hype of what is sure to be a great fight, sustained the perception that the lightweight division is every bit as tough as it looks and, by proxy, sustained a potential title run by Aldo through the 155 ranks.
And the loser of the bout between Henderson and Pettis could have been signed to fight Aldo at either featherweight or a catch weight, and that would have made for the perfect bridge for Aldo to cross over onto highway I-155.
Should they have waited to make Pettis vs. Henderson II before signing Aldo to fight Pettis?
But now much of this is at risk.
When two men with the power and speed and skills of Aldo and Pettis square off, it can end in the blink of an eye.
Both men are capable of catching the other and ending the bout with one shot, and should that happen it would be highly anticlimactic, not to mention how future fights could be compromised.
Given how the sport of boxing failed to make the “Superfight” everyone wanted to see—Pacquiao vs. Mayweather—it’s not surprising that the UFC is trying to make every big fight as soon as they can.
But at times there is a virtue to be found in waiting, and anticipation can make things worth the wait.
And when you're watching great fights as you wait (such as Pettis vs. Henderson II) the time just seems to fly by.