However, the month of June has seen events take shape that not only threatens an Aldo/Koch fight even happening, but Koch even still being near contention for a title shot
The most vital of these events was Jose Aldo having to pull out of his scheduled July 21 title fight with Koch due to injury. Not to diminish Koch's worthiness of a title shot, but it should be pointed out that Koch was almost an eleventh hour choice to challenge Aldo as the bout and location were named well before a challenger was.
With the injury, Aldo's next title defense won't be until later this year at the earliest. So who will be the next challenger?
Koch isn't officially out, but it would be safe to assume that he won't be the one who eventually challenges Aldo for the title. The decision for Koch was based more on what kind of card UFC was assuming they would produce for UFC 149, but also because the featherweight division didn't have an otherwise obvious contender, nor a name within the division that Aldo hadn't already beaten.
Such a conundrum surrounds Cub Swanson's chances of getting a title shot. Swanson's KO of Ross Pearson at UFC on FX 4 just over a week ago put him right into contention. The problem is that not only have Aldo & Swanson faced off before, but it was in WEC and Aldo KO'd Swanson in eight seconds. That fight has a permanent spot on Aldo's career highlight reel, but it isn't something that is going to help promote a rematch between the two. The fact that the fight in question took place three years ago won't do much because taking away an image from a fight is one thing, but when the image you're trying to eliminate was the whole fight, the challenge becomes herculean.
Hatsu Hioki was a good choice for a challenger for Aldo, it's too bad he didn't take the offer. Hioki refused a fight because, according to Dana White, he wasn't ready. It's as simple as that.
Hioki's recent shocking upset loss (by decision) to Ricardo Lamas gave a lot of weight to the argument that Hioki himself made about not being ready. But not being ready shouldn't have been the issue, and shouldn't be something that a fighter is afraid of once you get below 155 pounds. Remember, Kenny Florian got a shot at Aldo & the title in only his second fight at featherweight.
In today's MMA, worrying about being ready should sadly be secondary to getting big fights. It seems to be a backward line of thinking and this writer understands and admits that. But to be below 155 pounds and to be in any promotion other than UFC does not in any way guarantee a fighter a job with that promotion, unless he is a fighter of obvious talent and/or potential. For all fighters under 155 that don't meet those qualifications: best of luck.
Size doesn't mean everything, but it has been proven that in fight sports the larger or heavier the fighter, the more likely they are to become a draw. It's not cut and dry as MMA has produced plenty of non-heavyweight draws in various promotions in various countries. However, if you go down the list and measure which draws draw most and most frequently, those numbers will decrease as you go down the weight classes.
As of now Aldo appears to be the one big draw at 145-pounds that UFC has. That makes the challenge not only finding a challenger for Aldo, but finding one that will get fans interested and not just believe the fight is going to be a blowout for Aldo.
Koch does fit that bill because of his record, but Chad Mendes (Aldo's last unsuccessful challenger) may have something to say about it since Koch's lone career loss came against Mendes.
If anything else, the search does become a bit easier and with more leniency if Aldo's next title defense becomes part of the main card for a UFC card instead of the main-event that it would have been at UFC 149.
So who will it be? Koch? Swanson? Joe Silva and Dana White are the only two people who will know the answer when it is determined. The keywords being “when it is determined.”
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