Not even an hour after the result of the Featherweight championship bout that headlined UFC 156 on Super Bowl weekend, which resulted with champion Jose Aldo defending his title with a close and controversial Unanimous Decision victory, final WEC Lightweight champion and current #1 contender in the Lightweight division Anthony Pettis contacted UFC president Dana White requesting a match-up with the victorious champion. With no #1 contender officially named in the Featherweight division, the UFC announced early Tuesday February 5 that Pettis will be granted his request and drop down to Featherweight to take on the reigning division champion in an event scheduled for August 3, with the venue for this event still undecided at this time. Aldo comes off a Unanimous Decision win at UFC 156 over former Lightweight champion Frankie Edgar, which adds to a now 15 fight win streak since his only career defeat. Pettis comes off a Rnd1 TKO stoppage victory at UFC On FOX 6 over former 3x WEC title contender Donald Cerrone, which adds to a now three fight win streak since suffering only his second career defeat. With a venue still undecided upon, Brazil is considered a leading candidate with Aldo seen as a big star. The bout is tentatively scheduled for UFC 163, but that could change during the coming months.
Record: 22-1 MMA, 4-0 UFC
Status: UFC Featherweight Champion, 15 fight win streak
Style: Muay Thai, BJJ
Notable Wins: Jonathan Brookins, Cub Swanson, Mike Brown (won WEC Featherweight title), Urijah Faber, Manvel Gamburyan, Mark Hominick (inaugural UFC title defense), Kenny Florian, Chad Mendes, Frankie Edgar
Originally a grappler, Brazilian star Jose Aldo has become one of the sports premiere strikers with a Muay Thai game that has earned him a powerful reputation. Starting his career in August 2004 at age 17, he went unbeaten in his first seven bouts with all victories coming by way of stoppage (5 via (T)KO, 2 via Submission). Suffering his first and only professional defeat in his eighth fight in what was his first and only time competing at Lightweight, Aldo decided to remain at Featherweight where he has done so throughout his career since then. Remaining at Featherweight he racked up three straight wins via Unanimous Decision before signing with the WEC in 2008. Making his promotional debut in June 2008, he racked up five straight wins via (T)KO with a Rnd2 TKO over Alexandre Nogueira, a Rnd3 TKO over eventual TUF12 winner Jonathan Brookins, a Rnd1 KO over Rolando Perez, a Rnd1 TKO over Chris Mickle, and a Rnd1 TKO over Cub Swanson to become the #1 contender in the division. Facing off against champion Mike Brown in November 2009, he won the division title via Rnd2 TKO. Defending his title for the first time taking on former division champion and star Urijah Faber, Aldo put on a dominant performance showcasing his brutal legkicks that neutralized Faber’s wrestling and battered him en route to a Unanimous Decision victory. Next taking on TUF5 runner-up Manvel Gamburyan, Aldo defended his title successfully via Rnd2 KO as his final defense in the promotion before being promoted to the inaugural UFC Featherweight champion.
Making his inaugural defense in April 2011 he fought Canadian star Mark Hominick and dominated the fight for the first four rounds before succumbing to fatigue in the fifth where he resist the continuous attack of Hominick, but resisted his onslaught winning the fight via Unanimous Decision. Making his second title defense against former 2x Lightweight title challenger Kenny Florian, he dominated the TUF1 runner-up for four of the five rounds en route to a second straight Unanimous Decision win. Possibly the most momentous fight in his career, Aldo made his third title defense against undefeated Chad Mendes in his native Brazil fighting there for the first time since 2007, and won via a powerful Rnd1 KO stoppage that was made even more spectacular when Aldo ran from the cage and celebrated with the crowd. After a 13 month layoff following the victory over Mendes, Aldo made his fourth title defense against former Lightweight champion Frankie Edgar in what was billed as a “super-fight”. Taking Edgar on in a close fight that many fans differ on when scoring, Aldo left the victor via Unanimous Decision that marked his most important win defeating a champion from the weight class above which he and his team are considering a move up to. Now matched against Anthony Pettis, another elite Lightweight who’s striking could very well be considered more dynamic than his own, Aldo could leave with an even bigger win that could set him on his way for a move up to Lightweight to take on possibly even more challenging competition.
Record: 16-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC
Status: #1 contender in Featherweight division (traded #1 contender status at Lightweight), 3 fight win streak
Style: Taekwondo, Muay Thai, Capoeira, Wrestling, BJJ
Notable Wins: Danny Castillo, Shane Roller, Benson Henderson (won WEC Lightweight title/became final WEC Lightweight champion), Jeremy Stephens, Joe Lauzon, Donald Cerrone (won #1 contender position at Lightweight)
A former champion on the verge of finally getting the title shot he had to recapture, elite striker Anthony Pettis has his eyes set on taking on another dynamic striker and proving his elite status even more. Starting his career in January 2007 at age 20, he went unbeaten in eight straight bouts with all but one win coming via stoppage (4 via (T)KO, 3 via Submission) before signing with the WEC in 2009. Debuting for the WEC in June 2009, he earned his ninth straight career victory via Rnd1 Submission stoppage over Mike Campbell. Next facing Bart Palaszewski in his sophomore appearance, he lost via close Split Decision that became the first professional defeat in his career. Rebounding from the loss to Palaszewski, he racked up three straight stoppage victories that included a Rnd1 KO over Danny Castillo, a Rnd2 Submission over Alex Karalexis, and a Rnd3 Submission over decorated former collegiate wrestler Shane Roller to become the #1 contender in the division. Facing off against division champion Benson Henderson in what was the final bout in WEC history, Pettis put on an amazing performance that was capped off by an amazing flying headkick that Pettis himself named the “Showtime-Kick” and won the title via Unanimous Decision to become the final WEC Lightweight champion and send off the WEC with a bang.
Originally awaiting the victor of the Lightweight championship bout that headlined UFC 125 in January 2011 pitting then champion Frankie Edgar against rival Gray Maynard, Pettis decided to take another fight in the meantime after the title bout resulted in a controversial draw which warranted an immediate rematch. Taking on former inaugural Strikeforce Lightweight champion Clay Guida in his UFC debut in June 2011, he lost for only the second time in his career via Unanimous Decision after he was outgrappled for most of the bout, which also cost him his immediate shot at the UFC title. Rebounding from the loss to Guida and the loss of his title shot, he won a close Split Decision over UFC veteran Jeremy Stephens where he showed his improved wrestling. Next taking on TUF5 alumni Joe Lauzon, he made a major statement as he knocked out Lauzon with a powerful kick followed by punches stopping the bout at 81 seconds into Rnd1. Following the victory over Lauzon he unfortunately had to go on an 11 month layoff to recover from multiple injuries, and in that time former 3x WEC title challenger Donald Cerrone began picking a fight with him claiming that Pettis was ducking efforts to make a fight happen between them since their time in the WEC. Returning to action against Cerrone to silence his smear campaign, the two faced off at UFC On FOX 6. Controlling most of the fight with his unique striking style that stems from his Taekwondo background, the fight soon came to an end after Pettis began landing powerful liver-strikes that made Cerrone crumble from pain and was followed by punches that ended the bout in the halfway point of Rnd1 via TKO. Making a major statement being the first to stop Cerrone via strikes, who was a former kickboxing champion, the UFC declared him the #1 contender to await the victor of the title unification bout pitting reigning UFC champion Benson Henderson against final Strikeforce division champion Gilbert Melendez, but Pettis seems to have set his sights on another title now. In attendance at UFC 156, Pettis immediately contacted UFC president Dana White himself requesting the opportunity to fight Featherweight champion Jose Aldo after he successfully retained his title in the card’s main event. Now granted the opportunity to fight Aldo, Pettis will drop down to take on another dynamic striker whose Muay Thai will be pitted against his unique Taekwondo based style.
With one “super-fight” now behind him, Jose Aldo could be in for an even tougher match-up taking on another former champion who like him is a skilled striker from a background that also emphasizes kicks. With a victory over Pettis, Aldo will have defeated three elite Lightweights in five performances as Featherweight champion, with the previous two being 2x Lightweight title challenger Kenny Florian and former champion Frankie Edgar in his most recent bout. If Aldo leaves the octagon the victor over a third elite Lightweight, this could be the last time we see him compete as a Featherweight with his team and sources hinting that he may be looking to jump up to Lightweight hoping to get an immediate shot at the division title, which would likely be warranted should he defeat the man who was just named the #1 contender in the division. For Pettis on the other hand, a victory will earn him his first ever UFC title and a victory over one of the top ranked fighters in the sport who many analysts feel is unbeatable. But this intent on capturing the Featherweight title may also include wanting to return back to Lightweight immediately afterwards hoping to maintain his #1 contender status in the division and win the division title. If this is Pettis’ intentions, he would be on track to making history as only the third ever fighter in UFC history to win titles in two divisions (the only fighters to do so are Randy Couture and BJ Penn), and become only the second fighter in UFC history to hold titles in two divisions at once (the only fighter to ever do so is Randy Couture). If Pettis were to capture the Featherweight title with a victory over Aldo and retain his #1 contender status at Lightweight awaiting the victor of Henderson vs Melendez, defeating Henderson/Melendez would also solidify him as the #1 Lightweight in the world thus unifying the UFC, Strikeforce, and WEC Lightweight titles, which are the three major titles in the sport minus the now #2 American MMA promotion Bellator MMA. While there were fans and analysts who criticized the billing of the recent bout between Aldo and Edgar as a super-fight, this bout pitting Aldo against Pettis is one that I believe deserves the recognition as a legitimate super-fight.
Written by Paulino Arias, @MMAFANHQ on Twitter