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Possible Opponents for Jose Aldo at UFC 149

Yesterday the UFC held a press conference in Calgary to announce that three events will be held in Canada each of the next two years. Calgary will play host for the first UFC in Canada this year with UFC 149 on July 21st. During the press conference UFC president Dana White also announced that featherweight champion Jose Aldo would headline the card against a “to be determined” opponent.

With nearly four months before UFC 149 heads north, the UFC appears to be waiting to see how things shake out over the next couple events before naming a challenger to Aldo’s title. With tickets expected to go on sale during the first week of May the UFC doesn’t have much time to let things unfold.

Aldo (21-1) has won 14 fights in a row, including eight wins in the WEC and three more in the UFC. Aldo defeated Mike Brown at WEC 44 in November of 2009 to win the featherweight championship and hasn’t looked back since. Having already defended his belt against Chad Mendes, Kenny Florian, Mark Hominick, Manny Gamburyan and Urijah Faber, options for Aldo are dwindling.

Fighters like Hatsu Hioki, Dustin Poirier and Diego Nunes are likely on the short list of opponents for Aldo, with Erik Koch and Chan-Sung Jung on more of the long list.

hatsu hioki 1 232x200 Possible Opponents for Jose Aldo at UFC 149

Is Hatsu Hioki next?

Hatsu Hioki (26-4-2) is arguably the #2 featherweight in the world and followed up his lackluster UFC debut with a more dominant win over Bart Palaszewski at last month’s UFC 144. The former Sengoku featherweight champion has now won four in a row including a win over another top featherweight in Marlon Sandro. Having just come off a fight and with no fight currently scheduled, Hioki seems like an obvious choice for Aldo at UFC 149……right?

Diego Nunes (17-2) is scheduled to fight Dennis Siver at the UFC on Fuel event in Sweden on April 14th. Nunes rebounded from his loss to Kenny Florian with a win over Manny Gamburyan at UFC 141. Dana White has mentioned Nunes as a possible opponent for Aldo in the past and with an impressive win over Siver that might further the possibility. Should he come out the winner on the 14th with a clean bill of health it could be Nova Uniao teammates against each other at UFC 149.

Dustin Poirier (12-1) might have to most push behind him for the next shot at the featherweight title but timing is not on his side. Poirier has won five in a row, including four wins inside the Octagon and last fought at UFC 143. Poirier will be headlining the UFC on Fuel card against Chan-Sung Jung on May 15th. Should he win he’d have a good argument for a shot at Aldo, but the timing of his fight against when UFC 149 tickets go on sale makes him a long shot at UFC 149.

Erik Koch (13-1) hasn’t fought since September of last year due to injury but has won four in a row. Before the injury occurred he was scheduled to fight Poirier at UFC 143 and a Poirier vs. Koch #1 contenders bout would be a solid option.

Chan-Sung Jung (12-3) is coming off a seven second knockout victory over Mark Hominick to tie the fastest KO in UFC history. A win over Poirier would vault him up the featherweight charts but timing isn’t on his side (see Dustin Poirier). If he defeats Poirier on May 15th he could easily step in to face Koch in the above mentioned #1 contenders match.

In conclusion,since Hioki wasn’t already named as the next opponent for Aldo he is likely not the UFC’s first choice. If they stick to the first week in May for tickets going on sale that would most likely remove Poirier and Jung from the running since they would want the main event set before that time. That leaves Nunes as the front-runner, should he defeat Dennis Siver on April 14th.

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Tags: Calgary, Canada, Chan Sung Jung, Diego Nunes, Dustin Poirier, Erik Koch, featherweight, Hatsu Hioki, Jose Aldo, Mixed Martial Arts, MMA, UFC, UFC 149, UFC on Fuel TV 2, UFC on Fuel TV 3

Category: Exclusive, Featured, MMA, Opinion, UFC

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