UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo isn’t pulling any punches when discussing Anthony Pettis, a former lightweight contender who was granted an immediate title shot when he decided to drop to 145 pounds.
However, if victorious, Aldo plans to follow a Pettis-like path into an immediate title shot in a new weight class.
Aldo (22-1 MMA, 4-0 UFC) meets Pettis (16-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC) meet Aug. 3 in the headliner of UFC 163, which airs on pay-per-view from Rio de Janeiro’s HSBC Arena.
So what did Aldo think when the UFC first approached him about the fight, which put other contenders such as Ricardo Lamas, Chad Mendes, Cub Swanson and Chan Sung Jung on hold?
“I think it can be a valid approach, but not when someone drops from the weight class above to immediately challenge the champion,” he said this past weekend in Brazil. “There are already various contenders within the weight class. If someone just shows up and immediately challenges for the belt, he’s cutting in line, and everyone sees that.
“I don’t think it’s fair. I think if you’re going to drop down, then prove yourself by first having great fights within the weight class, and then you’ve earned the right to fight for the belt. That’s how I think. But since we’re already booked, no problem. I’ll just go and win that fight.”
Aldo is riding a 15-fight win streak that includes eight straight WEC/UFC title defenses. And he’s looked downright dominant as he’s breezed through one notable challenger after another.
Pettis, meanwhile, has won three straight and seven of his past eight. The former WEC champion, in fact, was already queued up for a shot at the lightweight belt. UFC officials, though, said Pettis wanted to drop to featherweight for an immediate title shot rather than wait for his lightweight shot. (Coincidentally, though, lightweight champ Benson Henderson meets new top contender T.J. Grant just four weeks later in UFC 164's headliner.)
For Aldo, though, the bout with Pettis comes with a perk. In fact, if victorious, Aldo said he’s going to do exactly what Pettis did: move to a new weight class and get an immediate title shot. In other words, if the UFC’s featherweight champion defeats Pettis this summer, he wants to add a lightweight title to his collection.
“If everyone is cutting in line, I might as well do the same thing,” Aldo said. “I’d like to move up one division and have an immediate title shot. We took the Pettis fight with this in mind.
“It’s [set]. Exactly. We put that in (the contract). It’s black and white. When we accepted the Pettis fight, we brought that up right away. Since everyone wants to cut into our line, let’s cut into theirs too.”
So why venture to a new weight class when things are going so well as featherweight? Why not just be content as the world’s best 145-pounder?
“I like challenges,” he said. “My life’s been nothing but challenges. It’s just another one in my career. Thank God I’m going through this. It makes me very happy. The next challenge is always the biggest. Pettis will be the biggest. After I’m done with him, there will be another. That’s my life.”
For more on UFC 163, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.
(Pictured: Jose Aldo)