The Time Is Now for a Jose Aldo Reinvention

Matthew Ryder@@matthewjryderFeatured ColumnistJune 8, 2017

Jose Aldo, left, of Brazil, left, is hit by Max Holloway, of the United States, during their UFC featherweight mixed martial arts bout in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, early Sunday, June 4, 2017. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)
Leo Correa/Associated Press

The smoke has cleared, and Jose Aldo is no longer the UFC featherweight champion.

He's no longer champion thanks to being on the wrong end of one of the crispest one-two combinations ever landed in a UFC bout, thrown by new champion Max Holloway in the closing moments of their UFC 212 scrap.

The sport is left to wonder whether Aldo is GOAT or goat considering his 1-2 run since late 2015, and the memorable means by which he's taken to losing fights, but that may not be the story in all of this.

The story may be that this is the best thing to ever happen to him.

Though you wouldn't know it from watching him weep as he passed by press row last Saturday, there is an unquestionable case that Aldo has been stagnating atop the featherweight division for some time. A lengthy run of tepid performances where he would mostly counterstrike and win on points supported that caseand supported fan frustration as well.

It didn't help that he got a reputation for pulling out of bouts after seemingly only defending his belt on every triennial winter solstice, and the dubious circumstances of how he became champion again almost immediately after losing his belt to Conor McGregor only empowered detractors to speak more loudly.

But now, thanks to getting a little too comfortable on the center line in front of Holloway and waking up with a flashlight in his face for that comfort, he's got a chance to turn a big mistake into a big opportunity.

Say hello to Jose Aldo: lightweight contender.

For years there has been talk Aldo is too big for featherweight, that his lazy performances and late-round disappearing acts had more to do with a brutal weight cut than any skill discrepancy. That's always been a pretty probable explanation, given the number of horrendous weight cuts MMA sees and the fact that no one ever questioned whether Aldo was good at fighting.

So here, in his darkest moment, with no obvious right to an immediate rematch against Holloway and no clear options at 145 pounds, why not embrace that narrative and go up in weight?

He could spin it as a new beginning, a chance to claim a title in a second weight class that he probably should have been fighting in since 2011. He could perhaps set his sights on McGregor, his ultimate nemesis and present lightweight champion who so boldly ended his first reign and has been so belligerent toward him for so long.

He could come back bigger and meaner, hunting for finishes the way he did when he was a hungry young contender on the rise in his WEC days.

And people would love it.

The problem with Aldo hasn't ever been that people don't want to get behind him. It's been that he's made it so hard.

Outside of his native Brazil, people generally seem to take him as a whiny malcontent disinterested in North American media promotion beyond occasionally slagging the UFC.

They feel cheated that someone with so much skill seems so content to coast to successful scorecards when he's been so obviously ahead of his contemporaries for so long.

They want more from him, if for no other reason than that his "more" might be beyond anything ever seen in the sport.

He can give it at lightweight, find big fights for big money and collect more big accolades there.

He can re-establish himself as a GOAT, all-caps and feared by all instead of a goat, lowercase and with horns. 

For a man who's lost everything and has no means of gaining it back anytime soon, you'd have to think that sounds pretty good.

     

Follow me on Twitter @matthewjryder!

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