Anthony Pettis is a man of action. He could have voluntarily waited for his chance at the 155-pound belt. Or he could do what he did, which was text UFC president Dana White to embark on an expedition.
Pettis asked for a chance to fight Jose Aldo, the 145-pound champion who just defended his title against Frankie Edgar on Saturday night. He wasted no time. His text came just minutes after UFC 156 concluded, as Aldo’s feet were still smarting from so many thwacking leg kicks. Pettis knew what he wanted to do, and he went after it.
You know what this is, don’t you? This is one of those "match made in heaven" deals -- the explosive Aldo, who at the end of his five-round war with Edgar sprung himself off the fence for one last sally. And Pettis. The Original Matrix. The WEC champion. Mister Ricochet. The Liver Kicka.
The fight will happen Aug. 3, and it’s a win-win for everybody. Pettis gets his title shot, and therefore the UFC keeps him rolling. Aldo gets the toughest next challenge. Gilbert Melendez and Benson Henderson can go about things in focus, rather than have a looming presence. Ricardo Lamas can fight Chan Jung Sung for the true No. 1 contender bout. And the UFC gets a fight that is filled with thrill, frill and thrall.
Pettis/Aldo will sit on the calendar until August like a new Ang Lee action movie.
But the greatest part about this isn’t the way the fight was made, or even that it was made -- it’s that the champion, Jose Aldo, never hesitated. It took him less than 48 hours to agree to fight Pettis, who by all accounts represents a very true and live threat to take his belt.
Isn’t this how it’s supposed to work? The champion seeing no man as an obstruction to his cause? The champion saying, “bring on all comers,” not in words by in decisive action? Aldo did what we want our champions to do, which is simply say "yes." This translates a lot better than airing their druthers.
Not that other champions haven’t acted the same. Benson Henderson truly doesn’t seem to care whom they stack in front of him. Neither does Cain Velasquez. But in recent times, we’ve seen Georges St-Pierre insist on Nick Diaz (at the omission of Johny Hendricks), and Anderson Silva request everyone from Cung Le to Luke Rockhold (at the very conspicuous expense of Chris Weidman).
Maybe after absorbing so much finicky behavior in recent months, Aldo’s "why hesitate?" attitude shows the right kind of eagerness. Here’s what he’s saying: If you want the belt, come try to take it. If the UFC wants the fight, so do I. If the fans want it, bring it on. Right on, Jose Aldo.
And right on to Anthony Pettis.
Not that there isn’t some logical curiosity in play. Obviously, Pettis fighting in August isn’t exactly expediting anything. Had he waited out Melendez/Henderson, which happens in April, August would have been around the time he’d have fought anyway. That’s just math.
But that's just nitpicking. Bottom line is he wanted a guarantee and to have the fight lined up in front of him. He wanted to zero in on a belt, and this thing played out like an epiphany. He knew there wasn’t a definitive contender at featherweight, and he acted on it. And Pettis -- who goes by “Showtime” -- knows a showstopper when he sees one. Think he can’t bring the house down in a bout with Aldo?
He can. And kudos to Aldo for inviting him to just go ahead and try it.