When Jose Aldo looks at the boundaries of his kingdom at featherweight he must be seeing a number of things. The biggest, of course, is that the edge of his empire is about to come complete. After knocked Chad Mendes in his native Brazil over a year ago, the task for the UFC has been to find someone who would be believable as a threat to “Scarface.” Aldo has been on such a run since destroying Mike Brown for the featherweight title in the WEC that finding someone who could give him a tough go for the title has been difficult at times. On the way up in the WEC he finished nearly everyone that now is starting to matter in the division. His actual title reign has been just as dominating as his run up to it.
Urijah Faber was chased from the division he once ruled as Aldo leg kicked him into oblivion. The Mendes fight is best known for its conclusion, with the elite wrestler knocked out in brutal fashion and Aldo celebrating in the crowd. Kenny Florian came down after being an elite lightweight and was summarily dominated. Manny Gamburyan’s final fight in the WEC was Aldo’s final title defense, as well, and that ended badly for the judoka. Throw in a fairly one-sided victory over Mark Hominick and Aldo’s reign has made him the king of a division that seems shallow because of just how good he’s been. And now the former UFC lightweight champion drops down to chase after Aldo’s title, giving us the first of what promises to be a handful of super-fights. A win over Edgar leaves him in only one place that would seem reasonable: done with the featherweight division.
And he should move to lightweight immediately after a win over Edgar.
Right now Frankie Edgar remains someone you could argue he should still be considered the UFC lightweight champion. Most people would argue that Edgar won his second fight with Benson Henderson. A smaller amount would argue that he won both fights against the former WEC lightweight champion. Both fights were exceptionally close and if he wins a handful of close rounds he lost Frankie Edgar never ventures down to featherweight to challenge Aldo. In an alternate universe Edgar could be en route to defending his title against Gilbert Melendez on this spring’s UFC on Fox card. If Benson Henderson is the clear #1 lightweight in the world than Edgar has to be considered 1b at best and perhaps the 3rd at worst in someone’s rankings, right?
Edgar’s elite in the lightweight division regardless of the minutia behind where you want to rank him.
If Jose Aldo can defeat Frankie Edgar, something that only Benson Henderson and Gray Maynard can officially claim the distinction of having done in his entire career, he’ll have done everything he can do in the division. Ricardo Lamas is a great fighter but he doesn’t present any new stylistic challenge he hasn’t seen before. Clay Guida could be frustrating to face in the near future but he doesn’t present a style matchup of extraordinary difficulty. Mendes would remain an interesting rematch but it’s one that he’s conquered already. The rest of the division lines up this way, as well, and Aldo would know his place in the lightweight division right away with a win over Edgar.
A win over Edgar, a difficult proposition in its own right, gives Aldo a de facto ranking in the elite of the lightweight division. Considering he has a remarkably difficult weight cut to hit 145 already lightweight is going to be his division sooner than later because of it. He won’t be able to make 145 for much longer. He’s mentioned 155 as more of an inevitability for his career as opposed to just being a possibility for it. In boxing it’s natural for many fighters to move up weight classes as they get older and this is perfectly normal. At this point Aldo is a big lightweight who cuts to 145. The featherweight champion is roughly the same size as most of the lightweight division already.
He’ll be walking into the Octagon this Saturday a much bigger fighter than Edgar, crazy as it sounds.
Aldo looked a weight class bigger than Edgar (easily) when the UFC had the then seven UFC champions assembled in one place for UFC 129. By all accounts he’s had had a rough time making 145 in his past couple fights and there’ll come a time when he can’t do it anymore. He could look better at 155 because he wouldn’t be draining himself to make the weight, as well, and Edgar would’ve been an ideal opponent to make his 155 debut against. And really … what better way to walk away from the division he reigned over than with a win over the man many feel is still the best lightweight in the world?
If he wants a reason to leave the division and move on to new challenges as a lightweight, coupled with a significantly easier weight cut, than lightweight is the place to be. One can only salivate over a matchup between him and Anthony Pettis, for starters, as the most creative striker in the lightweight division would take on the best striker from a weight class below. There’s intrigue with nearly a dozen fighters in that division against Aldo, something that only Edgar does at 145 for him.
The time is right and with a win Saturday he should exit the division for the opportunity to rule another.