New UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis wasted little time in deciding who he wants to face in his next Octagon outing.

Speaking to UFC commentator Joe Rogan following his victory over Benson Henderson, Pettis could hardly be understood. It was not because he was mumbling his words, but rather because the roof in the BMO Harris Bank Center had exploded into the stratosphere. Most fighters would rather bask in the glory of defeating their greatest rival in their hometown, but Pettis immediately looked towards the future.

“Jose Aldo, me and you have some unfinished business,” Pettis said during his post-fight interview.

Pettis and Aldo were expected to face off at UFC 163, but an injury put Pettis on the sidelines. However, the injury was minor and Pettis quickly found himself the beneficiary of circumstance. T.J. Grant, Henderson’s original UFC 164 opponent, went down with an injury. The UFC took advantage to make a rematch that many fans have eagerly anticipated since the first meeting between Pettis and Henderson at WEC 53.

With a new shiny gold belt, Pettis gained even more leverage towards getting a superfight with Aldo. And make no mistake about it, this fight would be pretty super.

The obvious criticism to this fight is that Pettis hasn’t built up a legacy at 155 pounds yet. Yes, he’s one of the most exciting fighters in one of the toughest divisions in the UFC, but he won the belt only a few days ago. He defeated Henderson in decisive fashion, but his other victories are over middle-of-the-road competition (Jeremy Stephens, Joe Lauzon and Donald Cerrone). Aldo, on the other hand, has created a legacy at featherweight that has surpassed that of Urijah Faber. Aldo is essentially the best featherweight on the planet both past and present. Pettis has yet to prove the same is true of him at lightweight.

Another criticism is that a superfight would tie up two divisions. The lightweight division in particular is wide open now that Henderson isn’t the champion. Everyone’s path to the title is virtually open and there are no shortages of challengers at 155 pounds. Despite Aldo’s long reign, the same can also be said of the featherweight division. Chad Mendes just picked up another knockout victory and happened to do it against Clay Guida, a fighter who had never been knocked out. Along with Mendes, there’s Ricardo Lamas, who, despite not having a national following, has more than earned his title shot. Frankie Edgar rebounded from his loss to Aldo with a nice victory, and Cub Swanson has been surging up the UFC rankings.

Tying up two divisions with a fight that may or may not come together isn’t fair to the rest of the potential challengers, but it’s what the fans want. Aldo and Pettis are two of the most dynamic strikers in the game today. Aldo’s Muay Thai, combined with lightning-fast head movement, has made him a dangerous competitor on the feet. When opponents have to game-plan for a fighter’s leg kicks, you know that fighter is a dangerous striker.

Opposing fighters who face Pettis likely struggle with game-planning. Pettis is a talented kickboxer, and anyone who has seen his fights knows that there’s no telling what he’ll attempt in the cage. The “Showtime Kick” is just one weapon in an arsenal full of nifty tricks. Pettis’ capoeira-style kicks and flying knee off the cage against Cerrone showed that Pettis is more than willing to try anything in both practice and the cage. Putting two guys with the dangerous striking ability of Pettis and Aldo in the cage together can only lead to instant dynamite. That goes for both inside the Octagon and in the bank account. A big fight like Aldo vs. Pettis is sure to draw a lot of interest and pay-per-view buys. The UFC has had so few superfights that any time they can be arranged, it needs to happen. The last true superfight that comes to mind is Georges St-Pierre vs. BJ Penn II, and just look at the success that event did.

Fans should concern themselves with the injury history of both Aldo and Pettis, but the positives far outweigh the negatives. This fight has the potential to be an instant classic. Not only do Aldo and Pettis have some of the best striking in MMA, but their ground games are pretty decent as well. Aldo showed his in his recent title defense against Chan Sung Jung by using his wrestling, and Pettis has shown that he’s a dangerous submission artist (just ask Henderson). They are two of the more complete fighters in the sport and always have exciting fights. The fight may not have the history behind it, but I’d rather buy a fight knowing that history will be written in the cage than on the basis of what both men have done in their careers.

So, let me reiterate a point many fans will make towards UFC President Dana White and the promotion: We don’t care what weight class this is at, what belt is on the line, or where the event is. Just make the fight happen.

Photo: Anthony Pettis (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

About The Author

Kyle Symes
Staff Writer

Kyle is a recent graduate of Aurora University, where he obtained a Bachelor's in Communications. Kyle resides in Illinois, just outside of Chicago. He played baseball and football in both high school and college, but is now focusing on an amateur MMA career.