It was odd waking up on Tuesday and everyone I know was talking about something I had no clue happened: Jose Aldo vs. Anthony Pettis is being set up for sometime towards the end of the summer. My first thoughts were of excitement, as you have the two best strikers in the world at 155 and under facing off for the featherweight title. After Pettis mercked Donald Cerrone in brutal fashion at the last UFC on Fox show in Chicago he was clearly the #1 contender for the lightweight title. With Benson Henderson tied up with Gilbert Melendez on the next Fox show in San Jose it would be a waiting game for Pettis, or so we thought. Pettis watched Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar and, with apparently the same level weight cut as Edgar going into lightweight saw something he liked and pressed Zuffa brass for a title shot against Aldo instead.
They granted it to him and now we have a matchup of epic proportions: the two most creative and hardest hitting kick-boxing styled fighters are going to get matched up and given 25 minutes to settle their differences.
With this divisional shakeup in hand there are a handful of clear winners (and losers) in both the featherweight and lightweight classes. As always it’s time to break it down and figure who wins (and who loses) with this matchup, if only because it’s one where a contender in another division is dropping down for no real reason as he’s on the cusp of a title shot.
Winner: Jose Aldo – What better way to stake your claim to being the best pound for pound fighter in the world than by having the elite in another division drop down to face you? With a win over Pettis it’d mark the third lightweight title contender he’ll have dispatched following Edgar and Kenny Florian. Throw in the fact that he didn’t hesitate to take the fight, apparently, and how can you not love this guy?
Loser: Frankie Edgar – Any chance he had to stake a claim to an immediate rematch is now officially over. Frankie’s going to have to work his way back into a title shot now. It was cliché to think that Edgar would get yet another rematch after having spent the past couple years only fighting guys he had previously fought (Penn, Maynard, Henderson) but the fight was close enough to warrant it. Now he’ll need to win a handful of fights to get there, which isn’t a bad thing. Edgar with a handful of wins and time to further improve his skills isn’t a bad thing.
Winner: Benson Henderson – If there was one fighter in the lightweight division who was perfectly tailored to beat “Smooth” it was Pettis. Both fighters are improved versions of the ones that fought for the right to hold the WEC lightweight title last, of course, but it’s still a bad style match up for him. We remember the “Showtime Kick” but we forget that Pettis fought him close for all five rounds. Benson is one of the best fighters in the world and now the one fighter with the exact style to give him fits is no longer in the division.
Loser: Ricardo Lamas – He went from being the presumed next contender to having to fight one more time to cement a title shot. After that beatdown of Eric Koch it was almost a given that he’d get the next chance at Aldo. Now it looks like he’ll have to fight one more time to get a shot. Odds are he’ll get someone tough, of course, but another win for him and he’s cemented as the next guy.
Winner: Gray Maynard – Maynard needed a couple more wins before Edgar & Pettis dropped down to get his hands on another title shot. He was helped by Edgar losing twice to Henderson, as it put him back in the mix after his epic trilogy with “The Answer,” but he was still a ways away from a title shot. With Melendez getting a shot at Henderson, and Pettis having moved down, one more win for “The Bully” and he’s right back in the mix. Everyone in front of him has left the division, lost or has gotten their title shot. A Maynard win over someone relevant and the winner of Henderson/Melendez will probably await.
Loser: Clay Guida – Guida dropped to featherweight after being an elite lightweight because he probably thought the road to a title shot would be faster. And with a win over a former top tier fighter in the division you could argue he was in the mix. Now he’s going to probably have to get a win or two more than he thought before getting his shot.
Winner: Anthony Pettis – Fighting for a UFC title is something and Pettis was in the perfect position after winning the WEC belt. That is until Gray Maynard and Frankie Edgar fought to a draw. Now he gets a guaranteed date for a belt against one of the more entertaining fighters in the world.