Featherweight champ puts title on line in July
It looks like UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo will defend his title in Canada after all
Last week at a news conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, UFC president Dana White said it was possible Aldo could be moved from a planned slot on the July UFC 149 card in Calgary, Alberta, to UFC 147 a month earlier in Rio. But according to a report from Brazilian news outlet O Globo, Aldo will remain on UFC 149 and won’t fight in front of his home country.
Aldo was announced last month as the likely headliner for UFC 149 – but an opponent was not yet named. On Saturday, though, MMA Junkie reported Aldo’s opponent on the July 21 card will be Erik Koch. A May 15 featherweight contenders bout between Dustin Poirier and Chan Sung Jung was thought to be a likely top contenders bout – and that may still hold to be true, with the winner getting the Aldo-Koch winner.
Ald0 (21-1, 3-0 UFC) has been untouchable since coming under the Zuffa banner. The Brazilian went 8-0 in the WEC with seven stoppages. He beat Mike Brown to win the 145-pound title, then defended it twice before coming to the UFC in the merger. There, as the UFC’s first featherweight champ, he has had a pair of unanimous decision title defenses against Mark Hominick and Kenny Florian. And in January, he knocked out Chad Mendes with just one second left in the first round at UFC 142 in Rio.
Aldo has gone six and a half years since his last loss, and that came at lightweight. He is widely considered one of the top four pound-for-pound fighters in the world, joining UFC champions Anderson Silva, Jon Jones and Georges St-Pierre atop that list.
Koch (13-1, 2-0 UFC) is on a four-fight winning streak with three stoppages, including a pair of Knockout of the Night victories. Koch’s only career loss was a unanimous decision setback to Mendes in the WEC. Since the UFC merger, the Duke Roufus-trained Midwesterner has a knockout win over Raphael Assuncao and a decision win over Jonathan Brookins, which came in September in New Orleans.
Koch actually was expected to face Poirier in February at UFC 143. But an injury forced him off the card and out of what would have been a likely title eliminator fight to determine Aldo’s next opponent.
The temporary uncertainty of when and where Aldo would fight came about when the UFC’s plans for a soccer stadium show in Rio for UFC 147 fell apart. The headlining fight between Silva and Chael Sonnen then moved to UFC 148 in Las Vegas. At the press conference announcing that switch, White said Aldo could be moved to UFC 147 – in part, likely, to compensate Brazilian fans for losing native son Silva to a show in the States. White said a light heavyweight title fight between Jones and Dan Henderson could wind up at UFC 149 in Calgary. But that will likely not be the case now.
UFC 149 takes place at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Canada’s third largest city. It will be the UFC’s first trip to Alberta, though the WEC made one trip to the province for WEC 49 in Edmonton.