Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo showed the reason he has been the kingpin of the 145-pound division for just about six years now, stopping "Korean Zombie" Chan Sung Jung in the fourth round via strikes in the main event of UFC 163 last night (Sat., Aug. 3, 2013) at HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Aldo now finds himself in a precarious position; not in a bad way, but an uncertain one. He successfully defended his title against Jung by showcasing his improved wrestling skills and technical striking, not delivering a devastating performance we are used to seeing from him, but rather a more careful, calmer and collected one. After Jung's shoulder separated in the fourth round, Aldo swarmed on him by kicking it a few times before taking his back and delivering some painful blows for good measure.
There are a few fights that make sense in the Featherweight division for Aldo, but one sticks out like a sore thumb: Ricardo Lamas.
If we quickly run through the division, Aldo has already beaten the newly improved Cub Swanson in devastating fashion back at World Extreme Cagefighting's 2009 event, WEC 49, so that cancels him out in favor of worthier challengers at the moment. Aldo could face the winner of Chad Mendes vs. Clay Guida at UFC 164 in Milwaukee, Wisc., later this month, but Guida has not really earned a Featherweight title shot because he is relatively new to the division, while Mendes would surely like to avenge his UFC 142 loss against "Scarface" where he was crushed by a brutal knee back in early 2012.
Frankie Edgar could make a strong case for another shot since he gave Aldo one hell of a challenge at UFC 156 earlier this year, losing a close decision where he excelled in the championship rounds against the Nova Uniao-trained standout. Edgar, however, has only one win in the division apart from his loss against Aldo, meaning it would be best if he, too, fights another competitor at 145 pounds.
What do those fights, or mere possibilities, all have in common? They are all rematches.
Aldo should be met with a fresh challenge. Champions usually should always look for new challenges. However, will his motivation drop since he has more or less cleaned out all but one man who stands in the division? Even if Aldo has not faced Lamas yet, the Brazilian powerhouse has proved he is the best featherweight fighter of all-time (and arguably the best pound-for-pound fighter today) and may want to take on new challenges at Lightweight -- a dream of being a dual weight-class champion worth pursuing, which is a point he has made a little too often as of late.
"If they want me to go up, I'll do it but I let them decide my career," Aldo confessed at the press conference (watch full replay here) when asked about his next move.
Still, Aldo has a little more say in his near future simply because his intentions weigh greater than what his bosses want at this point. He has successfully defended the Featherweight title seven times in both the UFC and WEC without signs of slowing down any time soon and has done everything that needs to be considered to prove he is one of the greatest martial artists in the world.
If Aldo wants to go up in weight, he would likely get an immediate title shot against the winner of lightweight champion Ben Henderson vs. Anthony Pettis at UFC 164 in Milwaukee. Since Pettis was Aldo's original opponent for his UFC 163 title defense until "Showtime" had to pull out because of an injury, nobody would complain about a potential bout featuring these two.
And it's not like Aldo against Henderson wouldn't be a barnburner from start to finish, either.
One concern, though, is a potential broken foot that he suffered against Jung on Saturday night and it all depends if he will be missing significant time with this potentially serious injury.
Nevertheless, if Aldo does in fact listen to his employers and stays on his Featherweight throne, Lamas would be the go-to guy since he was skipped approximately three times (check out Lamas revealing he was snubbed at UFC 156 against the champion here) and mysteriously does not have a fight lined up on the horizon.
And let's be honest: He deserves it. If Lamas is skipped once more, it better be for a damn "super" reason.