MMA Ratings Podcast

December 22, 2020

UFC Vegas 17: Jose Aldo Is Back: Predicting Four Fights For The Legend In 2021

By Adam Martin

This past weekend, former UFC Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo snapped a three-fight losing skid with a decision win over Marlon Vera at UFC Vegas 17. After dropping decisions to to Alexander Volkanovski and Marlon Moraes before being brutally stopped by Petr Yan, the 34-year-old Brazilian legend needed a win in a big way, and he got the job done by taking home a hard-fought decision over a quality opponent in Vera. The win reaffirms Aldo's top-10 position in the UFC bantamweight division heading into 2021.

After getting his hand raised against Vera, Aldo suggested several opponents for him in 2021, and all four of the opponents he named are all-time greats. Let's go through the four fights that Aldo called for and examine them:

TJ Dillashaw

Following the win over Vera, Aldo used his post-fight interview to call out former UFC Bantamweight Champion TJ Dillashaw, who is set to return to the Octagon in early 2021. Dillashaw has not fought since January 2019, as he's been suspended for the last two years after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. However, he remains one of the biggest names in the division despite the long layoff. Dillashaw has become a popular callout target for several of the top bantamweights lately, so it's no surprise Aldo joined the pack and called him out. The difference is that Aldo is a legend and has earned the right to call out his next opponent. If he wants Dillashaw, and if the former bantamweight champion likes the fight too, then this could very well be one of the fights to look forward to in 2021.

Dominick Cruz

In his post-fight media scrum with reporters, Aldo mentioned several other names aside from Dillashaw for him to fight next, and one that stood out was Dominick Cruz. Aldo and "The Dominator" are two of the greatest MMA fighters of all time in the lighter weight classes, as both are former UFC champions and WEC champions. It's actually kind of incredible these two have never been linked to a fight despite having overlapping careers for over a decade. However, with Aldo and Cruz both ranked in the Top 10 at 135 lbs, a fight between these two makes all sort of sense in 2021. Cruz currently has a fight booked against top prospect Casey Kenney, and with a win over Kenney, he might just call out Aldo afterwards.

Henry Cejudo

Another potential matchup that Aldo mentioned is a re-booking of a fight against Henry Cejudo. Remember, these two were supposed to fight back at UFC 250, but Aldo couldn't make it to the fight due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. Cejudo ended up fighting Cruz, knocking him out in the second round to defend the UFC bantamweight title, only to shock the world and retire immediately afterwards. Since hanging up his gloves in May, Cejudo has kept active on social media and continues to troll all sorts of fighters, namely Alexander Volkanovski. Cejudo would only come out of retirement for big fights, and a fight against Aldo certainly qualifies as a big one. These are two of the greatest MMA fighters of all time, and this would be a dream matchup. The winner of the fight could also be in line for a title shot.

Frankie Edgar

Finally, Aldo mentioned his old nemesis, Frankie Edgar, as a potential opponent. These two have fought twice previously -- at UFC 156 and at UFC 200 -- with Aldo winning unanimous decisions in both fights. Like Aldo, the 39-year-old Edgar recently made the move down to 135 lbs, and he defeated top-10 contender Pedro Munhoz by a split decision in a back-and-forth battle that marked a successful bantamweight debut. Edgar is next set to take on Cory Sandhagen in early 2021 in what could be a potential title eliminator at 135. However, depending on what happens in that fight, a fight against Aldo could very well be in the works for the winner of the fight. Aldo has beaten Edgar twice, but both of those bouts were close decisions, and a trilogy bout at 135 lbs presents another variable in the style matchup.

Jose Aldo is one of the best MMA fighters of all time, and even at age 34, he has plenty left to give the sport. At this point in his career, he should only be fighting big names, and all four of the fighters he suggested are fantastic opponents. If it was up to you, who would you want Aldo to fight next?

UFC Fight Night
Jose Aldo vs. Marlon Vera: Jose Aldo def. Marlon Vera via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).

UFC Fight Night: Thompson vs. Neal (formerly UFC Fight Night: Edwards vs. Chimaev) took place December 19, 2020 at UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Click HERE for more UFC Fight Night Analysis

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