UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo is currently recovering from a foot injury, but that didn't stop him from catching up with MMAfighting.com for a chat about the crowded title picture within his division.
"I’m not the one who decides that, but in my mind I believe Ricardo Lamas is the next in line," Aldo said. "He already earned his chance. If it’s not him, I believe Cub Swanson should be the next option."
Lamas, of course, captured the eye of fans after upsetting a pair of No. 1 contenders in Hatsu Hioki and Erik Koch. "The Bully" has a flawless record of 4-0 at featherweight, which also includes stoppage victories over Cub Swanson and Matt Grice.
Originally scheduled to face the Korean Zombie at UFC 162, Lamas has not competed since a January victory over Koch. The summer bout was scrapped when Jung was announced as an injury replacement for Anthony Pettis, who was scheduled to meet Aldo at UFC 163.
"If I were Lamas, I wouldn’t fight anyone and just wait for my opportunity," he said. "He was supposed to fight me already but then (Anthony) Pettis got himself in the middle. Lamas should wait, this is his moment. But it they decide to do a rematch between Lamas and Swanson to see who fights me, that’s ok too."
Cub Swanson has been more active than Lamas since their 2011 matchup. Currently riding a five fight win streak, the Jackson-Winkeljohn fighter has tried to get the fans on his side with a series of high-profile knockouts.
When asked about Chad Mendes, whom Aldo defeated via first-round KO in early 2012, the champion voiced his opinion that the Team Alpha Male prodigy isn't ready for a second crack at gold.
"Chad Mendes is still starting, haven’t fought anyone ranked yet, only fought guys that are not that good," he said. "He’s coming off good wins, but he hasn’t beaten good guys. So I believe the next two should be Ricardo Lamas and Cub Swanson."
Mendes has scored four impressive knockout victories since his UFC 142 bout with Aldo. However, Aldo is correct in identifying a lack of wins against top contenders. Of the four opponents that Mendes has bested, only Clay Guida has ever been ranked.
Who do you think should get the next crack at Aldo and the featherweight championship? Is Mendes ready to get one more shot at the belt? Should Lamas and Swanson fight while waiting on Aldo to heal up? Or has Lamas done enough to wait for his crack at glory?