Jose Aldo delivered a memorable conclusion to last night’s UFC 142 event in Rio with his knockout of Chad Mendes.
Given the fact that Aldo not only managed to finish the previously undefeated fighter inside a single round of Octagon action, but also managed to successfully stuff a number of the former PAC-10 wrestler of the year’s takedown attempts, you do have to wonder who can stop this immensily talented 25 year-old.
With that in mind, who should Aldo face next?
Truth be told there’s scant few legimate challenges left for him the in 145lb weight class. A couple of young guns on the rise are Erik Koch and Dustin Poirier who have two wins apiece in the UFC to date and have looked impressive in the way they’ve handled their business.
The two were originally scheduled to face each other next month which could have singled one of them out as a clear contender for the belt, but unfortunately injury has nixed the match-up.
A recent addition to the featherweight ranks Hatstu Hioki who’s currently on a five fight winning streak is another potential opponent,though he was far from impressive in his UFC debut in October, scrapping through with a split decision victory against George Roop.
Yuri Alcantara notched his second win in the UFC last night and he’s now on a 13 fight winning streak, though the majority of those were via regional fights in Brazil and the UFC will likely want to test him further against more recognized opposition before throwing him into a title fight.
So, as you can see there’s no definitive challenger right now for the champion, though if he’s willing to stick around then in the longer term then the likes of Charles Oliveira and Ross Pearson who recently jumped ship from 155lbs could start to feature on the horizon.
With that in mind the question has to be whether now is the time for Aldo to make the step up to the UFC’s lightweight division where a whole host of new challenges awaits him, not least a potential title fight with current title holder Frankie Edgar.
Aldo claims he’s leaving it up to his team to decide when he should take that next step up, while Dana White stated last night that he’s happy for the Brazilian to either move up or stay at 145lbs.
I’d like to see him make that move now while he’s in such scintillating form, but his handlers may well choose to proceed with caution and attempt to get one or two wins under his belt first.
Therefore I’d anticipate seeing Aldo up against either Koch or Poirier next time out.