After UFC Lightweight Title Shot Has Been Ruled Out, It’s Your Move, Jose Aldo

Jose Aldo 5Former Strikeforce lightweight champion and current UFC 155-pounder Gilbert “El Nino” Melendez has resigned with the promotion, and as part of a clause in his new contract, he will receive not only a title-shot against champion Anthony “Showtime” Pettis in December, but he will also be coaching opposite the lightweight champ on the upcoming 20th season of The Ultimate Fighter. Many UFC lightweights are not too happy with the news, as was evident by an interview Josh “The Punk” Thompson gave to MMA Junkie Radio, in which he said it made him sick to his stomach. This title fight will not be taking place for over nine months, so that means there will be no lightweight title-fight until the tail-end of the year. Another thing the news of this match-up rules out is the possibility of Jose Aldo leaving his featherweight strap and moving up to lightweight to take on Pettis for his crown. While Pettis vs Melendez is a great fight that will likely collect ‘Fight of the Night’ honors, many fans would have much preferred the Aldo bout. So what is next for Jose Aldo? Option A) Chad “Money” Mendes. The Team Alpha Male product had his shot at Aldo in Brazil but suffered a knockout at the final moment of the first frame. Mendes has come back strong after the defeat, going on to make quite the statement in the UFC’s featherweight division. “Money” has developed from primarily being known as a decision fighter into a knockout artist who KO’d four opponents in a row, including the near-impossible to finish Darren “The Damage” Elkins and Clay “The Carpenter” Guida. No one can say Mendes would not deserve the title-shot, should he get the rematch. His track record, which also includes a recent hard-fought decision victory over Nik Lentz, is why he is one of my two options for the champ’s next move. Option B) Cub Swanson. The Southern Californian is on a five-fight winning streak in his own right, and much like Mendes’, his streak also includes four T/KO finishes and one unanimous decision victory. Also, much like Mendes, Swanson has finished two fighters in Ross Pearson and Denis Siver who are incredibly hard to put away on the feet. For these reasons, if he were to get the shot, you cannot say he does not deserve it. The Greg Jackson-trained fighter has been on an absolute roll ever since losing his UFC debut to recent title challenger Ricardo Lamas. If Dana White were to call me and ask for advice on what Aldo’s next move should be, I would first ask him how he got my number, then I would present him with the aforementioned two options, and then tell him I choose Option B, which is Mr. Swanson. I lean with Swanson getting the shot over Mendes slightly more because he had his shot at Aldo long before Mendes did, back in the WEC days. Mendes’ shot was much more recent, and while his wins since the loss have been impressive, I was slightly more impressed by the knockouts Swanson scored. Those two little reasons each played a role in my leaning with Swanson over Mendes for the next title-shot. If we have Swanson fighting Aldo, what would that mean for Mendes? On either a Pay Per View or FOX card that is headlined by Aldo vs Swanson, there should be a co-main event featherweight bout that sees Mendes take on “Lil’ Heathen” Jeremy Stephens, which is certainly a fight many fans would be itching to see. The winner of said match-up would be the undoubted number-one contender, and would be set to face the winner of the main event. It will be interesting to see how the UFC brass plays this one out. Will they see things my way, or perhaps go a completely different direction? At this point, it looks like we’ll have to take the “wait and see” approach.

Written by Gabe Killian

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