Earlier today, we reported on comments made by Dana White regarding Jose Aldo’s longtime manager Andre Pederneiras. Essentially, White feels that by publicly demanding certain conditions for a fight with Pettis, Pederneiras is making his fighter look “scared” of a potential showdown. During a post-fight scrum with the media, White had the following to say about the situation:
“Here’s the thing. You can tell 100 percent Anthony Pettis is willing to go wherever it takes. I know that Jose’s coach is saying, ‘Bro, he can come down here at 145.’ Because they think [Pettis would] be at a disadvantage whereas I actually think he’d be at a huge advantage at 145. He’s big, strong. Either way, whether Pettis goes to Aldo or Aldo goes to Pettis, they’re going to fight.
When you come out and make a statement like that, you make it look like your guy is afraid of him. You make it look like Aldo is afraid. And that might not be Aldo’s same opinion. It might be his manager saying, ‘This is what I want to happen here.’ But it makes it look like he’s afraid of Anthony Pettis, which already gives Anthony Pettis an advantage.”
While some may take White at his word and assume that this is simply a case of Aldo and his manager looking for an advantage, the story runs much deeper than that. Aldo was rightfully apprehensive when he was initially asked to face Pettis for his featherweight championship,. He had just defeated former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar during the latter’s first ever fight as a featherweight, and the last thing he wanted was another lightweight skipping to the head of the line. There were plenty of true featherweight contenders waiting in the wings, including Chan Sung-Jung, Ricardo Lamas, and Cub Swanson, and taking fights against Edgar and Pettis would put the rest of the division on hold for nearly a year. Aldo himself hasn’t been shy about his difficulties in reaching the featherweight limit, but the UFC had remained opposed to him abandoning the division he has reigned over since its inception. Another fight against a highly talented lightweight was not what Aldo had in mind.
A deal was struck. If Aldo accepted the fight against Pettis, he had the power to choose his own destiny moving forward. Even in victory, the UFC would allow the champion to move up to lightweight and would grant him an immediate title shot. Despite being forced into the bout, it allotted Aldo the opportunity he had been waiting for, and he agreed to fight on these terms.
When Pettis was injured and forced out of his scheduled matchup, it seemed the UFC would move on. There were plenty of contenders in each division, and the match seemed too good to be true. That is until Anthony Pettis made history on Saturday night, defeating the long-reigning lightweight champion Benson Henderson. In his post-fight interview, Pettis made it very clear that Jose Aldo was still on his mind.
The matchmaking problem facing the UFC would be which weight to hold the event at. Pettis is not looking to vacate the title that he just earned, and Aldo wants to have the same assurances regarding his own future if this fight is going to be made. While White indicated that Aldo comes off as “scared,” he argues that Pederneiras is simply looking to ensure his fighter receives fair treatment based on what was promised by the promotion. In an interview featured on MMA Fighting, Aldo had the following to say about White’s comments:
“I can fight Cain Velasquez if they want. It’s not up to me, I’m not the matchmaker. I want to fight, I’m here to fight. I train everyday to destroy whoever they put in front of me. I’m not scared of anyone. They have two arms and two legs, and I will do my best and win. (Andre Pederneiras) is absolutely right. They forced us to do something and Andre wants something in return. I agree with everything Andre says, and I can fight anyone. Sometimes Dana says things that you better not pay attention. (Dana) knows he promised us things and he knows he has to give us, so that’s why he says those things. We’ll see what happens.”
A bold challenge from the featherweight champion, who isn’t afraid to challenge the “official” story. A match against Anthony Pettis draws even more interest now that it would be champion v. champion, and we can only hope that Dana White and Co. are able to come to terms to make it happen.