Anthony Pettis and Jose Aldo were scheduled to fight at featherweight last year, but an injury to Pettis forced the bout to be cancelled. He made a quick return and won the UFC Lightweight Championship, while Aldo continued to defend his featherweight title.
Now, after Aldo's latest successful title defense, we might be getting the fight we all very much wanted to see last summer. Or, at least we thought we were. Aldo claimed he wanted Pettis after beating Ricardo Lamas at UFC 169. Pettis accepted, and Dana White moved quickly to make it happen.
But then things started unraveling. Aldo's coach said they wanted the fight at a catchweight of 150 pounds, according to Globo (h/t MMA Fighting). Pettis' management responded by telling Fox Sports that wasn't an option and that Aldo would have to do as White said he would: Give up the featherweight title and move to lightweight.
And now we find ourselves in limbo, hoping we'll see a fight that has the potential to cement Aldo as one of the greatest fighters of all time.
But we aren't the only ones in limbo. Featherweight contenders Cub Swanson and Chad Mendes await Aldo's decision; if he vacates the belt, there's a pretty good chance they'll square off to determine the new champion. In the meantime, they're in a holding pattern, and it's something Swanson would like to see concluded swiftly.
Here's what he told Steph Daniels from Bloody Elbow:
I was pretty...I don't want to say irritated, but they kept telling me after this fight they'd have an answer. Now, with all this superfight talk, it's all on Aldo and it's kind of frustrating. I'd like some answers. If he's going to stay or go, just do it already, so the rest of us can figure this out.
If I was him, I'd just go. We're all guys that want to challenge ourselves and be the best in the world. That's why people love Randy Couture and B.J. Penn; they sought challenges in different weight classes to be the best in the world. Dominating one weight class makes you a badass in the sport, but if you want to be a legend, you have to go to different weight classes and be dominant there, too.
I agree with Swanson. Aldo cannot have his cake and eat it, too. If he wants the challenge of facing the lightweight champ, he'll have to sacrifice the belt he currently holds.
A catchweight bout may sound appealing to Aldo's camp, but it effectively freezes other contenders at both featherweight and lightweight from getting their own opportunities while Aldo and Pettis settle their business. Nobody wants to see that, least of all Swanson, and you can't blame him for being upset at the notion of waiting on the sidelines for a long period of time before getting the title shot he has earned in the cage.
At the end of the day, I suspect we'll see Swanson get his wish. Aldo will move up to lightweight to challenge Pettis for the belt, and Swanson and Mendes will fight to determine a new featherweight champion.
But for Swanson's sake—and for the sake of every other fighter in both divisions who are awaiting their own opportunities to strap some gold around their waists—I hope Aldo and his camp make a decision soon.
It's the right thing to do.