What’s Jose Aldo’s next move? Does he get his immediate rematch? If not, who should he face next? Do you think he’ll be able to come back strong off such a devastating loss?
MICHAEL BANE, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Jose Aldo’s been doing it for so long, it’s hard to remember he’s still not even thirty years old. Assuming that MMA mileage isn’t going to start having an effect, his biological age and skills suggest that Aldo can very well contend at the top of the featherweight division for a few more years.
Aldo’s first move is to mentally process and recover from the 13 second shocker that was his title loss. Losing is different for different fighters. For people like Aldo, who had only one loss ever, that being 10 years ago, it’s such a foreign experience that the mental effect is probably much more devastating. We’ve seen how different that effect is with what’s been happening to Ronda Rousey. There’s little doubt that Rousey could be at or near the top of women’s MMA for years to come, but she’s essentially said she’s finished with the sport if she can’t beat Holm in a rematch. Granted, she’s got other means to make a living that many don’t, but it goes to illustrate how unacceptable and devastating getting beat is for some individuals.
Aldo needs to work through what’s happened, and get his mind in a good place before his next fight. I don’t want to read too much into Aldo’s pre-fight body language, but many said he looked like a beaten man before the bell ever rung. Where McGregor was loose and energetic, Aldo looked pensive, weary, and tense. Maybe that’s just Aldo being Aldo, but it does add credence to the belief that the former champ may have some mental hurdles to clear on his way back to the top.
Aldo’s not going to get an immediate rematch. There’s a bit of fatigue from this fight having been promoted for almost a year now, and the way that the fight played out has made Aldo something of a forgotten man in the mind’s of many. Aldo has a better argument than almost anyone for an immediate chance to regain his title, but what’s best for McGregor is going to dictate who gets to fight him next, and an Aldo rematch just isn’t it right now. Add to that a compelling case for Frankie Edgar, and Aldo’s only chance for shot at the title right away is if McGregor leaves 145 lbs altogether.
Assuming that McGregor holds onto the belt, a fight to reestablish Aldo’s dominance is in order. Seeing a guy who could only last about as long as it took Weidman to complete his exceptionally slow wheel kick fight for a belt is just not that appealing yet. Have him brutalize someone, or win against a top guy, and Aldo fighting for the belt he held for so long becomes more intriguing. Aldo defeated so much of the division previously, a lot of top ranked guys would be rematches, but there’s a couple of fights that make sense from both a ranking level and interest level. Much like McGregor did to him, Aldo ended Cub Swanson’s night before the fight really even began, and Swanson would love a chance to avenge such a poor showing. Swanson is starting to fade from relevance rather quickly, so a fight against Aldo could benefit him quite a bit. He’s still got enough of a name to make it worth Aldo’s time as well.
Dennis Bermudez is another fighter who would jump at a chance to take on Jose Aldo. He’s got a fight coming up in January, but assuming he emerges with a win and injury free, this would make a fine match for Aldo. Bermudez was getting some title talk in the wake of seven straight UFC wins, but two consecutive losses have since derailed his momentum. A win against Aldo, or even a good showing, would elevate his position in the division. He’s also shown a propensity to get finished, as all five of his losses have been by way of submission or TKO, giving Aldo a better chance than normal for a highlight reel type win.
Max Holloway is probably just one win away from his own championship fight, and seeing him square off against Aldo is one of the best fights you can currently make at 145 pounds. He’s a confident young man, and the 23-year-old would accept such a fight against the legend that Aldo is without hesitation. The downside to this match is burning a potential title contender unnecessarily, and because of that I think this fight is somewhat unlikely.
Aldo needs a win, both to reestablish himself in the public’s eye, and possibly to help gain some confidence. He’s only a win out at most from a chance at the belt, and I fully expect Aldo in a championship fight sometime in 2016.
FRANK HYDEN, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR