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UFC 156:

Jose Aldo likely staying at featherweight with surprising next challenge

Powerful, creative striking leads Aldo past Frankie Edgar

Image

Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Jose Aldo throws a knee at Frankie Edgar during their featherweight title fight at UFC 156 Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Aldo retained his title with a unanimous decision.

UFC 156 - Aldo vs. Edgar

Jose Aldo reacts after retaining his featherweight belt after winning a unanimous decision over Frankie Edgar at UFC 156 Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Launch slideshow »

UFC 156 - Silva vs. Overeem

Referee Herb Dean pulls Antonio Silva away as Silva yells at Alistair Overeem to get up during their fight at UFC 156 Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Silva won with a third round TKO. Launch slideshow »

UFC 156 - Evans vs. Nogueira

Rogerio Nogueira celebrates his win over Rashad Evans after their fight at UFC 156 Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Nogueira won by decision. Launch slideshow »

Dana White’s cell phone works as mixed martial arts’ version of a storm siren.

When it buzzes right before a post-fight press conference, there’s something major about to fly in the direction of everyone in White’s vicinity. In the case of Saturday night at Mandalay Bay after UFC 156, it was something that failed to show up on anyone’s radar.

The message loomed large after Jose Aldo retained his featherweight championship in a unanimous-decision victory (49-46, 49-46, 48-47) over Frankie Edgar.

“Anthony Pettis said, ‘I want to move 145 and fight Jose Aldo,’” White relayed. “He just texted me 10 minutes ago.”

This is the same Pettis that White promised a lightweight title shot to within the last few days after reflecting on a first-round TKO over Donald Cerrone at UFC on Fox 6. Thing is, Pettis isn’t keen on waiting for the result of the scheduled lightweight championship match between Benson Henderson and Gilbert Melendez in April.

After seeing the way Aldo passed the toughest test of his career to this point, according to White, Pettis would rather face the featherweight champion immediately. Like an afternoon shower that blows in on a day full of clear skies, Aldo was caught off guard by it all.

“That is an interesting fight,” Aldo said through a translator. “I train to fight the best. I respect them all. I think Pettis is almost there with the title shot at his own division but it would be an interesting fight.”

Looks like Aldo will stay in the featherweight division for the time being. Pettis may have helped answer that question without even knowing it.

Aldo said beating Edgar, the former lightweight champion, might serve as a suitable goodbye to the division he’s reigned over for four years before the fight. Aldo goes through draining weight-cuts to make the 145-pound limit and expressed serious interest in going up to the 155-pound class.

But the fact that he’s established himself as one of the most dominant champions in MMA — Aldo has now won 15 straight bouts and seven title fights — had Aldo re-thinking his position while still in the octagon after beating Edgar.

“I get sick, I get fed up, but all my teammates they help me out,” Aldo said. “At the end of the day, I can make the weight so I’m still here fighting at this weight class.”

The concern the UFC may have encountered with Aldo staying at featherweight is finding him opponents both deserving and recognizable enough. Although legitimate contenders like Ricardo Lamas and Chan Sung Jung are out there, Pettis is better known to fans from his time as the WEC lightweight champion.

Aldo vs. Pettis would likely get advertised as a fight between two of the UFC’s flashiest strikers. Last week in Chicago, Pettis set up the finishing sequence of his fight by running off of the fence to knee Cerrone in the face.

Aldo sprang off the fence late in the Edgar fight himself to fire a Superman punch. Powerful strikes like that were the reason Aldo got by Edgar in a fight that seemed closer than the judges’ scorecards indicated.

Aldo took the first two rounds with ease, but the champion lost speed and power in the later rounds — a recurring and possible side effect of his dramatic weight cuts. Edgar landed most of his strikes in the third, fourth and fifth rounds.

“The scoring was way off,” White said. “It should have been a lot closer than that, but it’s all how you judge the third round. But I do think Aldo won the fight.”

White wants similar challenges for Aldo going forward, and he thinks Pettis is the next opponent to bring that.

Aldo’s not going to seek shelter.

“I will fight anyone,” he said, “whoever they put in front of me.”

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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