Let’s face it, José Aldo is bored. He’s just going through the motions—exceedingly violent, cringe-inducing motions complete with the most brutal leg kicks in the sport. The greatest featherweight ever has cleaned out his division, and it was quite evident at UFC 169. Aldo controlled the action early against an overmatched Ricardo Lamas, and coasted to victory in the later rounds. No one is disputing his right to move up a division and challenge Anthony Pettis for the lightweight belt. But Dana White seems determined to make Aldo vacate his strap before doing so, a sentiment I can’t quite understand and for which there is an easy compromise.
Aldo has earned some privilege; a winning streak dating back to May 2006 and a remarkable eight title defenses under the Zuffa banner will do that. In this case, the privilege Aldo has earned is the opportunity to be the first dual belt holder in company history. But that doesn’t mean he has to actually defend both of those belts.
Should Aldo lose to Pettis, let him return to featherweight and keep mowing down the competition. The UFC gets to keep their dominant champion, Aldo’s risk of being without a belt is mitigated, and the fans will have witnessed a true superfight—an idea that has been teased for far too long.
If Aldo defeats Pettis, allow him the luxury and cachet of holding two belts-- even if it is only for a short time period. Therein lies the key to this scenario: Aldo deserves to be the guy to try and make UFC history, and if he does we can all praise him as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the sport. He can pose for pictures with a gold strap on each shoulder. Heck, let him tour Brazil on the shoulders of his countrymen while they erect statues of him in full double-flying knee glory. But after a period of time in which he basks in the glory, say 2 months, let José choose which belt he wants to keep and defend. Presumably, that would be lightweight, where there is a veritable shark tank of challengers for Aldo to keep at bay. He forfeits the other belt and opens up said division.
The idea of Aldo defending both belts, while attractive, presents too many problems. Aldo, for all his greatness, is not an active champion. He hasn’t fought more than twice in a year since 2009. That type of inactivity would put both the ultra-exciting lightweight and featherweight divisions on hold. Lightweight, in particular, is too rich with talented challengers to clog things up. We’re currently seeing that conundrum with Pettis. It would be unfair to the litany of great fighters at both 145 and 155.