Figuring out what makes sense next.
Lamas (18-5 MMA, 9-3 UFC) is riding back-to-back wins since a loss to current featherweight champ Max Holloway. His only two UFC setbacks before that came at the hands of none other than long-reigning ex-champ Jose Aldo and two-time title challenger Chad Mendes.
Ranked No. 5 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA featherweight rankings, Lamas is clearly a threat in the division. But, with two fights left – he thinks – on his current contract, he knows he has to make the right moves in order to get an even better deal next.
Beating his opponents, of course, is the ideal course of action. But who, exactly, is a bit uncertain for now.
“I haven’t heard anything yet,” Lamas told MMAjunkie Radio. “I think they might be waiting. There are some big fights coming up in the featherweight division. (Gilbert) Melendez is coming down. He’s a big name. We’ll see how he does against Jeremy Stephens.
“And then obviously if the (Max) Holloway vs. (Frankie) Edgar fight gets booked – I don’t know, man. We’ll see.”
While the booking hasn’t been made official, both Holloway’s manager and UFC president Dana White have indicated that former lightweight champion Edgar will most likely be the first challenger to the Hawaiian’s newly unified belt.
Considering his record, Lamas does see one clearer way that could end up meaning a title shot for himself.
“Edgar is the guy I haven’t fought yet,” Lamas said.
Aware of Holloway’s ability to evolve both in between and during his octagon showings, he won’t go so far as to pick a winner for that possible encounter. But if that happens to be Holloway, Lamas does see ways he can do better than the UFC 199 meeting that ended in a unanimous nod for the current champ.
“You always feel like you can do better,” Lamas said. “I feel like I didn’t really perform at my best that night. And it happens in this sport. You’re not going to perform at a 100 percent every time you go out there and fight.
“So I definitely think there are things that I could have done better and that I could do better if we ever rematch in the future.”
Another option could be Aldo, who was last seen being dethroned by Holloway at UFC 212. While the ex-champ has been angling for a rematch with Cub Swanson, who Aldo knocked out in the now-defunct WEC, Swanson himself doesn’t seem all that excited about it.
Would a rematch from their UFC 169 encounter be of interest, then?
“Anything is possible, man,” Lamas said. “The only thing that I want is options. Give me some options and let me see what’s best for me, for my career.”
As far as said options go, though, there’s some puzzle-solving involved. Especially considering a volatile – and often subjective – scenario in which simple rankings are not the sole determining factor, that can be a somewhat frustrating experience.
“Wrestling was so much easier,” Lamas said. “You go to tournaments, competitions. You’re seeded. You’re in a tournament. You win, you move on to the next one, and you fight the winner of the match below you. You keep going, and then the winners fight the winners.”
Asked about two possibilities a little further away from the direct title picture – Brian Ortega, who’s fresh off a UFC 214 finish of Renato Moicano, and Chan Sung Jung, who he was originally supposed to meet at UFC 214 – Lamas seemed open.
But then he added a request of his own to sweeten the deal.
“I’d like to do something that’s going to get me a little more – what about an ‘Ultimate Fighter’ with one of those guys or something,” Lamas said. “Get me on there as a coach. I’d like to do something like that before my career is done.”
Of course, being a “TUF” coach means spending a little extra time on the sidelines while the tapings unfold – which, for a 35-year-old fighter may not be ideal. But, when it comes to that, Lamas doesn’t seem particularly concerned.
“I’m Latino, bro. We age in reverse,” Lamas joked. “I’m like a fine wine.”
To hear more from Lamas, check out the video above.
And for more on the upcoming UFC schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.
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