When Jose Aldo steps into the Octagon at UFC 200, the Brazilian will be fighting for a lot of things. As well as the interim featherweight title, Aldo will return to action for the first time in 2016 knowing anything other than victory would be a huge blow to his already tarnished legacy. Long-viewed as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world, Aldo’s six-year reign as the number-one featherweight in MMA was brought to a brutal and quick ending when Conor McGregor knocked the Brazilian out in just 13 seconds at UFC 194 in December of last year.
The task is now for Aldo to prove he is still the beast he was before his loss to McGregor, and the UFC have certainly thrown down the gauntlet to the former champion, handing him a fight against a Frankie Edgar coming off a five-fight win streak, including sensational victories over the likes of Charles Oliveira, Cub Swanson, Uriah Faber and Chad Mendes. Edgar, who held the lightweight title for almost two years, had been pushing for a fight against McGregor, but will now have the chance to get his hands on UFC gold again when he fights for the interim title.
This, of course, won’t be the first fight between Aldo and Edgar, although it’s tough to say exactly what we can take from the first meeting between the two. Aldo came out on top in their first bout, edging a narrow points win, and the latest UFC odds and news show just how much of a close fight this could be, with Edgar priced at around 4/5 while Aldo is at the time of writing priced at evens. The first meeting between the two, in February of 2013 at UFC 156, came down to the very wire, with many still claiming Edgar should have been the one with his hand raised – and both men will be desperate to leave no doubt as to the result this time around.
While both men have lots of the line, it’s probably fair to say Aldo will be entering the Octagon with plenty on his shoulders. Edgar might be one of the best fighters to have competed in the lighter divisions of MMA ever, but he proven on a number of occasions over the years that he is human, losing to three different men. Aldo, meanwhile, looked unbeatable throughout the majority of his career. Aside from a loss in his eighth professional fight, Aldo established himself as one of the most dominant champions in UFC history during his reign, only to see it all come crashing down within seconds against McGregor.
With both men searching for the money fight of the lower divisions against the Irishman, Edgar to prove McGregor has been ducking him and Aldo desperate for revenge, there is more than just the interim title on the line here. While this fight won’t end the question as to who the undisputed king of the featherweight division is, it will go some way to clearing up some of the confusion, as well as allowing both fighters to prove their respective doubters wrong.