José Aldo well and truly stole the show at UFC Fortaleza last night and now, is gearing up for an unmissable – and potentially final – year in the sport.
And if he does hang up his gloves, he will do so as one of the most dominant forces the game has ever known – something that his recent run of two straight finishes has only served to remind us of.
We delved into why his most recent victory over Renato Moicano was a phenomenal display of his ability to rebound from the seemingly inescapable downward trajectory his career looked to be taking in a separate piece and now, we’re going to have a look at who exactly Aldo could share the octagon with before calling it a day.
So without further ado, here are five fighters that could well be standing across from the former champion before long.
Sure, he might have lost some of the wind in his sails after being thoroughly outclassed and beaten down by champion Max Holloway at UFC 231 but in truth, who doesn’t get annihilated by Holloway in that fashion these days?
A matchup against Aldo seems to make sense for the two top featherweights in the division outside the man with the belt and according to Ortega’s Twitter, he too seems to be in agreement.
Volkanovski could well be the most deserving next challenger to Max Holloway’s title when you actually look at the rankings and everyone’s most recent outing.
After beating Chad Mendes in a thriller at UFC 231, Volkanovski would present José with one of the toughest stylistic clashes on this list but the Brazilian has been beating down top-contenders at 145lbs for years and possesses all of the tools necessary to pull off another win.
If Aldo does decide to make his long-awaited move to the lightweight division, why not test his mettle straight off the bat by locking him in there with fan favourite ‘Ragin’ Al Iaquinta?
Iaquinta managed to move to 2-0 against the rising force that is Kevin Lee and with his position on the periphery of the title-mix, giving him a crack at a legendary former champion like Aldo would be the perfect way to establish one as a genuine player at 155lbs.
Of course, Barboza was going to be on this list. Although currently signed to fight Justin Gaethje at UFC Philadelphia, it would be a great shame if we weren’t able to match up these phenomenal kickers together before all was said and done.
Edson is a much longer fighter than José, yes, but if we learned anything last night it’s that Aldo’s speed and technique have not diminished in the slightest and if he does, in fact, wish to compete at lightweight, who could complain if this fight came of it?
There was once major weight behind a super-fight between Aldo and the former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis. Of course, both guys no longer hold titles but there is certainly some intrigue to be found in the way that their styles match up.
Pettis is currently signed down for a welterweight clash with Stephen Thompson in March but if he doesn’t find himself within the 170lb with a win, a step back down and a true clash of WEC greats would be phenomenal.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena