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Former UFC champion and avid sports fan Jose Aldo has always dreamed of fighting in Madison Square Garden. With UFC 217 looming, that dream could very well come true in Nov. 4.

All he needs is a dance partner for the New York City event. And that’s when it gets muddy.

Before losing the belt to Max Holloway at UFC 212, Aldo had already expressed the desire to stay active. With that unchanged by the loss, the first name that was thrown around was Cub Swanson’s (25-7 MMA, 10-3 UFC), whom Aldo (26-3 MMA, 8-2 UFC)  had met (and made quick work of) before – under the now-defunct WEC banner.

Swanson, whose only reply to the idea was a low-key jab, became a father shortly after. Then, another rematch started being rumored – this time with Ricardo Lamas (18-5 MMA, 9-3 UFC), who’d unsuccessfully challenged for Aldo’s belt at UFC 169.

So, where exactly do things stand right now? Head coach and manager Andre Pederneiras explained.

“When we started negotiating way back, it was Cub Swanson,” Pederneiras told MMAjunkie on Friday. “But then he got pregnant. So he wouldn’t be ready for November, (which was) the date we wanted. November or December.

“So when I met someone else, they mentioned Ricardo Lamas’ name. They haven’t confirmed it yet. I think – I think that Lamas didn’t confirm it.”

When alerted to the fact a reporter had already spoken to Lamas, who dismissed the matchup rumors, Pederneiras replied.

“I figured as much,” Pederneiras said. “Because I’m trying to follow up, and they’re not saying anything back. But Aldo wants to fight. And the last thing he heard from my mouth was that it could be Ricardo Lamas and it could be either Nov. 4 or December. So we’re waiting.”

Aldo, who’d talked to reporters earlier that day, didn’t go into specifics of matchup negotiations; instead, he said he was expecting to hear good news from Pederneiras. He was quite clear on one thing, though: He wants to return soon. Hopefully, in New York City.

“It’s a dream of mine to fight there, especially at Madison Square Garden,” Aldo said. “I grew up watching boxers fight there. So, for me to fight at that venue, it’s historic, so I do want to be (at UFC 217).”

As for whom he’d like to meet on Nov. 4, Aldo doesn’t have a personal preference. He wants a fight – whether that means facing 145-pound contenders like Lamas or Swanson, or even accepting longtime lightweight Michael Johnson’s (17-12 MMA, 9-8 UFC) recent invitation to be his first featherweight challenge.

“I think (a matchup with Johnson) is great,” Aldo said. “I see no problem with that. First, you have to talk to (Pederneiras). He’s the one who handles this. The more people saying my name, the better. That’s what keeps me up there. I see no problem.”

So if both Aldo and Johnson are down, it should be simple, right? Let’s just say that, after a learning experience with lightweight contenders Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov, Pederneiras is skeptical as to how this one is going to pan out.

“Everyone talks,” Pederneiras said. “(But) when it’s go time, everyone stays behind the curtains. These guys, what they say in front of the cameras, they don’t say behind it – and these are words by the matchmakers.”

Before the loss to Holloway, Aldo had repeatedly expressed another desire: trying his hand at the 155-pound division. That, it turns out, is not yet out of the picture. But it seems the former champion has some unfinished business to tend to first.

“We have this idea of moving up,” Pederneiras said. “But Aldo wants to try the title for a third time. (He wants to) fight for the belt again. We think there’s a good chance. Because in my head, Frankie Edgar is going to beat Holloway. Because their games don’t go together. And then (Aldo) would have a third stab at the belt. He can win the title and then move up.”

For more on UFC 217, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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