MILWAUKEE – UFC President Dana White truly likes Andre Pederneiras. But when it comes to UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo, White believes the veteran MMA manager is making his client look scared.
Specifically, he thinks Pederneiras is approaching a bout between Aldo and newly crowned UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis all wrong.
Pettis (17-2 MMA, 4-1 UFC), of course, was scheduled to drop a weight class and fight Aldo this past month at UFC 163. However, following a knee injury, Pettis was pulled from the fight, but then he was booked as a replacement for T.J. Grant at Saturday’s UFC 164 event. There, in the headliner of a pay-per-view event in his hometown of Milwaukee, Pettis dethroned long-reigning Benson Henderson (19-3 MMA, 7-1 UFC).
Immediately after his first-round submission win, Pettis talked about how the entire series of events produced a storybook ending. However, even with top contender Grant (21-5 MMA, 8-3 UFC) waiting in the wings, Pettis still wants a shot at Aldo. It seems White does too, though he thinks Pederneiras’ demand that Pettis come down to 145 pounds is making Aldo (23-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC) look bad.
“Here’s the thing,” White said of Pederneiras, who was an honorable mention in MMAjunkie.com’s special publication, “The 25 Most Powerful People in MMA.” “You can tell 100 percent Anthony Pettis is willing to go wherever it takes. I know that Jose’s coach is saying, ‘Bro, he can come down here at 145.’ Because they think [Pettis would] be at a disadvantage whereas I actually think he’d be at a huge advantage at 145. He’s big, strong.
” … I mean, for his manager to come out, this is what drives me crazy about managers. I love him. He’s a good guy. I’ve known Andre for years. But when you come out and make a statement like that, you make it look like your guy is afraid of him. You make it look like Aldo is afraid. And that might not be Aldo’s same opinion. It might be his manager saying, ‘This is what I want to happen here.’ But it makes it look like he’s afraid of Anthony Pettis, which already gives Anthony Pettis an advantage.”
Sure, if you want to fight the champ, you should be willing to go to his weight class. After all, Aldo has won 16 consecutive fights with seven consecutive WEC/UFC title defenses. He’s the No. 1 fighter at featherweight and also No. 4 pound-for-pound in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie.com MMA featherweight rankings.
However, Aldo and Pettis both now have a belt wrapped around their waist, so White believes Aldo and Co. need to realize they’re no longer in the driver’s seat when it comes to a potential bout.
As for Pettis, who doesn’t know the extent of a knee injury he suffered on Saturday, he’s not making demands and is willing to fight in either division, or even in the middle.
“I’m here to make the good fights happen,” he said. “I’m here to prove I’m the best in the world anywhere around my weight class. Whatever happens, happens.”
White, too, isn’t sure what weight the fight would take place at. However, he said he doesn’t anticipate a scenario in which one fighter would hold both belts, though he didn’t completely count out that possibility.
“That wouldn’t be the case,” he said. “I don’t know. Who knows? Like I said, this fight happened 45 minutes ago. I’m not even thinking about that right now.”
For complete coverage of UFC 164, stay tuned to the UFC Events section of the site.
(Pictured: Jose Aldo and Andre Pederneiras)