As soon as Aldo stepped out of the Octagon after defeating Frankie Edgar at UFC 156 on Saturday night, Pettis sent a text message to UFC president Dana White saying he didn’t want to wait around for his promised lightweight title shot, he wanted to drop down and challenge Aldo.
White mentioned Pettis’ intentions during the UFC 156 post-fight press conference, where it was immediately apparent that he was more than receptive to the idea. He had the Cheshire grin of his beaming from ear to ear.
By Monday, White told USA Today, the fight was made for Aug. 3. The location is yet to be determined, but the UFC president said the main locations under consideration are Texas, Chicago, Las Vegas, and Rio de Jeneiro.
“Two of the baddest dudes in the fight business are going to fight at 145 pounds,” White said. “These guys are two of the most amazing, gravity-defying athletes in the sport. I am so pumped for this fight.”
Chan Sung Jung and Ricardo Lamas were both crashing down the door for a shot at Aldo. Jung is on a three-fight winning streak, defeating the likes of Leonard Garcia, Mark Hominick and Dustin Poirer; while Lamas has done him one better since dropping to featherweight. He has strung together victories over Matt Grice, Cub Swanson, Hatsu Hioki and Erik Koch.
Jung, however, is expected to be on the sidelines for several more months recuperating from a torn rotator cuff.
Lamas is a reasonable choice, and the worthy No. 1 contender, but much like Chris Weidman at middleweight, gets docked points for not carrying enough name value. Like it or not, mixed martial arts is big business as well as sport, so name value and being able to sell the fight to fans factors into match-ups.
There is a reason that the UFC opted to insert light heavyweight champ Jon Jones and failed middleweight contender Chael Sonnen as Ultimate Fighter coaches and have them fight at UFC 159 in April… the fight sells and sells big.
Aldo’s most recent fight was against Frankie Edgar, who was making his featherweight debut, but jumped to the front of the line because he was the former lightweight champion, is considered one of the top pound-for-pound fighters around, and it allowed the UFC to bill the bout as a superfight.
Anthony Pettis was the final WEC lightweight champion and has worked his way up to being the No. 1 UFC lightweight contender, most recently knocking out Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. He had been waiting for champion Benson Henderson, the man he defeated for the WEC belt, to square off with final Strikeforce champion Gilbert Melendez, but saw the writing on the wall with fights like Jones vs. Sonnen and Aldo vs. Edgar, and seized the moment.
He’ll drop to featherweight for the first time in order to fight Aldo.
White and the UFC brass jumped at the fight, which gives Aldo’s next defense much more splash than Lamas could provide, worthy contender or not.
So now, Pettis finally gets a crack at the UFC title, albeit a completely different one than he had initially been aiming for.
Carpe diem, Anthony Pettis, carpe diem.