Jose Aldo has reigned as the featherweight king since winning the World Extreme Cagefighting title in 2009. When Zuffa, LLC, absorbed the mixed martial arts organization in 2011, Aldo was brought into the UFC as the company’s inaugural 145-pound champion.
However, irrespective of his long win streak and highlight-reel knockouts, Aldo lacks the star power of other champions. At this point, becoming a bigger commodity in the UFC appears to include facing the winner of the lightweight title matchup between Anthony Pettis and Gilbert Melendez, with the intention of becoming champion of two greatly talented divisions.
Since his debut as champion at UFC 129, Aldo has remained undefeated within the UFC and has defended the featherweight title six times. At 24-1, the Brazilian phenom holds the organization’s No. 2-ranked pound-for-pound spot. Aldo is on a 17-fight win streak and sports 14 devastating knockouts to his credit.
Nevertheless, with regard to popularity (determined by those who pay to witness him fight), the last three bouts in which Aldo participated in either the main or the co-main event garnered only 730,000 pay-per-view buys in all. In contrast, the last three fights that starred Cain Velasquez, Jon Jones (the three preceding UFC 172) and Ronda Rousey produced 1.3 million, 1.31 million and 1.81 million pay-per-view buys in total, respectively.
If Aldo successfully advocates for a fight between him and the lightweight division’s reigning champion in Pettis, this matchup of champion vs. champion would more than likely exceed any pay-per-view in which Aldo has been previously involved and ensure the elevation of his star power.
Pettis mentioned this super bout immediately after winning the lightweight title at UFC 164 in August 2013. In an interview with UFC commentator Joe Rogan, he stated, “Jose Aldo, we got unfinished business. My belt or your belt?”
Aldo mirrored Pettis’ interest in a bout between the two in a title matchup following his victory over Ricardo Lamas at UFC 169. Excited about the fight, according to Mike Whitman of Sherdog.com, UFC president Dana White soon thereafter stated:
Sounds like we’ve got a fight. I’ve been talking about that fight. I like Jose at 155 [pounds]. The weight cut is much easier for him. But again, he’s the king at 145. If he wants to move to 155, I think it’s a huge fight with Pettis.
However, Pettis injured both knees in 2013, and with the lightweight champion’s long recovery time, the matchup of champion vs. champion was placed on hold. Then, the two became occupied with other contenders.
Now, Pettis will coach opposite the former Strikeforce lightweight champion in Melendez on The Ultimate Fighter 20, and the two will face off later this year with the 155-pound title on the line. Aldo will face Chad Mendes in his seventh UFC title defense at UFC 176 on August 2.
Assuming he successfully defends his championship belt against Mendes, Aldo will be presented with the grand opportunity of holding two separate divisional belts simultaneously—a feat that has never been achieved in the UFC.
Only Randy Couture and B.J. Penn have seized two divisional UFC belts, only not at the same time. With a win in his next title defense, challenging the lightweight champion in Pettis or Melendez would place Aldo in a category all by himself and solidify him as one of the greatest mixed martial arts fighters of all time.
Anthony Pettis' call out of Jose Aldo at UFC 164 (2:35):