MMA Ratings Podcast

December 18, 2019

Jose Aldo Is An MMA Legend, But Should Not Be the Next Challenger At Bantamweight

By Raphael Garcia

There were several storylines to watch coming out of UFC 245. But while most fans are still talking about a new champion, a broken jaw, and one woman's GOAT status, there’s an interesting but troubling development occurring at bantamweight that's also worth discussing. Former UFC and WEC Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo fought to a tough split decision against former WSOF champion Marlon Moraes in his debut at 135 pounds. And although many observers disagree with the outcome, the record books show that he was defeated in this contest. However, there’s a push for Aldo to be slotted in as the next title challenger for UFC Bantamweight Champion Henry Cejudo. that is the incorrect direction to go.

In a highly anticipated bout on the UFC 245 main card, Aldo and Moraes fought to a razor-thin decision, but judges Eric Colon and Mark Smith found that Moraes did just enough to take two of the three rounds. And unfortunately, this outcome didn't make the bantamweight title picture any clearer.

Moraes should expect to remain ranked at or near the top of the division, but his recent defeat to Cejudo at UFC 238 keeps him out of the conversation for a rematch at this time. Aljamain Sterling is recovering from an injury. Cory Sandhagen is in limbo now that his bout against Frankie Edgar is in jeopardy. That leaves Petr Yan, who also picked up a big win at UFC 245 when he stopped Urijah Faber with a thudding head kick. However, Cejudo has dismissed the idea of fighting Yan, instead electing to call out Aldo in the kind of cringeworthy video that only he can do. That awkward callout should have been dismissed out of hand, but unfortunately, that’s not how business in the UFC works.

Even before the champion's video, UFC President Dana White referenced the possibility during the UFC 245 post-fight press conference:

“He [Cejudo] wants to fight Jose Aldo...I don’t hate it. Most of the room thought he won. If he wants Jose Aldo next, we could do it. I don’t have a problem with it. I’m sure people would want to see it.”

These statements fly in the face of the notion that title shots are determined by the competition that occurs in the Octagon. Aldo is coming off of two straight losses. Yes, he exceeded expectations at bantamweight, but those expectations were low heading into the fight. The narrative surrounding the startling weight loss that was needed for Aldo to reach the bantamweight limit led to most fans and media members expecting that to hamper his abilities. Instead, he hung with Moraes for three rounds, and he did enough in the eyes of many of them to take home the victory. Still, that wasn't the official outcome, and matchmaking champions and challengers should be based on merit and success in the cage, not "in the eyes of many."

And what about Yan? The 26-year-old fighter is riding a nine-fight win streak that spans nearly four years. His last three wins -- against John Dodson, Jimmie Rivera, and now Faber -- are more than enough to qualify him for title contention. Yes, Yan is a relatively unknown fighter outside of the hardcore fanbase, but in the lead-up to UFC 245, Yan showed that he has the type of personality that can be built around in order to develop him into an attraction of sorts. But regardless, in terms of pure merit, Yan deserves the opportunity to compete for the title before anyone else.

Aldo’s name may bring more cachet, but his inclusion in this conversation immediately puts a negative twist on the title picture. White has already received criticism for the way he justified a possible rematch between Conor McGregor and UFC Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. McGregor is fighting Donald Cerrone in a welterweight bout at UFC 246 next month, and White stated that if he wins he could receive a title fight with Nurmagomedov next. McGregor’s last win at lightweight came over three years ago against Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205. Plus, Nurmagomedov submitted McGregor in McGregor's last MMA fight. Yet and still, the fight with Cerrone is being described as a “lightweight fight where they don’t have to cut weight.” That is enough to tell you how far the competitive aspect of the UFC has fallen, so it's not surprising that the promotion is trying to sell a bantamweight title challenger with no wins in the weight class.

Jose Aldo is an MMA legend. To many, he’s the best featherweight fighter of all time. He possesses accolades that can never be taken away from him. However, they are not enough to justify being awarded a shot at Henry Cejudo. Could Aldo rise to the point of top contender? Yes, he sure can. But should he do so off a loss? The answer to that question should be a resounding "No."

UFC 245
Jose Aldo vs. Marlon Moraes: Marlon Moraes def. Jose Aldo via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28).

UFC 245: Usman vs. Covington took place December 14, 2019 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Click HERE for more UFC 245 Post-Fight Analysis

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