If there’s one thing that makes Dana White‘s head spin — besides Meniere’s Disease, obviously — it’s UFC champions who turn down fights. So you can imagine how he felt when Jose Aldo‘s manager recently approached the UFC president to explain that his client didn’t want to fight Anthony Pettis after all. The Aldo vs. Pettis featherweight title fight had already been confirmed earlier this month, and is scheduled to go down on August 3rd. Here’s Dana explaining the situation to media following UFC 157:
“Jose Aldo came out and said, ‘There’s no way in hell I’m fighting Pettis. He’s absolutely refusing to fight Pettis — doesn’t think he deserves the shot.
“Andre Pederneiras was in England and he sat down with me and Lorenzo (Fertitta) and was like, ‘We don’t think he deserves it.’ “What do you mean you don’t think he deserves it? ‘Well, he might be the No. 1 guy at 155, but how does that make him the No. 1 guy (at 145)?’ Are you out of your f—ing mind? Are you serious? Did you seriously just ask me that question? It’s like if Aldo wanted to move up to 155, are we going to say he’s not the No. 1 contender? What are you talking about?…
“F—in’ right, [Aldo] is gonna fight Pettis. That fight’s on. He’s going to fight Pettis, or he’s not going to like how this is going to turn out.”
As we’ve seen over and over again in the UFC lately, “deserve” ain’t got nothing to do with it when you’re talking about title shots. With its event schedule growing more and more frantic — requiring more big fights to fill main event slots — the UFC now awards title shots based on the best available option at a specific moment, rather than waiting for the ideal matchup to come together. And so, we’ve got upcoming title challengers who have already gotten their asses kicked by the reigning champ (see: Bigfoot, Machida), title challengers who jumped up from lighter weight classes after falling short in their own divisions (see: Belfort, Sonnen), title challengers who are coming off a loss and a suspension (see: Diaz), title challengers who were champions in other organizations but have yet to make their UFC debuts (see: Melendez), and title challengers who weren’t even champions in other organizations, but hell, the champ’s gotta fight somebody, right? (see: Carmouche)
Maybe Anthony Pettis isn’t a former UFC champion like Frankie Edgar was, but compared to most of the other people I just mentioned, he’s pretty damn worthy of the opportunity. And if Aldo and his camp can’t wrap their heads around the current reality of the UFC, then they deserve whatever happens to them.