Featherweight champ out to prove he can go higher

Featherweight champion Jose Aldo has all the makings of a star who could dominate the 145-pound weight class for several years.

He's young and talented and has rarely been tested since making his U.S. debut in 2008, reeling off 11 straight wins in mostly dominant fashion between World Extreme Cagefighting and his current home in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Aldo has his mind set on something bigger, however.

The 26-year old Brazilian would like to test his skills at lightweight. He has often talked of trying to be the first to win the UFC belt in three weight classes, but the first step would be to join Randy Couture and BJ Penn in winning the title in two divisions.

"Every fighter dreams of winning the title at a higher (weight class)," he said through an interpreter.

He will get a great opportunity to get a firsthand look at the challenge of fighting bigger opponents when he defends his belt against former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar in the main event of UFC 156 on Feb. 2 at Mandalay Bay.

Edgar decided to drop to featherweight after losing his 155-pound title to Benson Henderson, then falling to Henderson again in a rematch.

Aldo says he has been trying to convince his coaches, particularly Andre Pederneiras, that he is ready to make the jump up to 155. He hopes a win over Edgar will convince his camp that he is capable of dealing with bigger guys in the same way he has dispatched of all featherweights in his path.

"It all depends on this fight," Aldo said. "My trainer thinks I'm not quite ready yet. When he thinks I'm ready to go up, I fully intend to do it.

"Once I beat Frankie Edgar, I'm sure I can prove that I can fight one (weight class) above."

That doesn't mean he wants to abandon the featherweight division completely. Aldo says he wants to fight for the 155-pound belt and simultaneously hold both titles, though he acknowledges it's unlikely the UFC would allow one fighter to tie up two belts.

■ IGNORANCE IS BLISS - In preparation for the biggest fight of his career, Rory MacDonald would not have had to look far for a wealth of information on BJ Penn, whom he fights on the UFC on Fox 5 card Saturday night in Seattle.

MacDonald trains with Georges St. Pierre, who has beaten Penn in two memorable fights.

But the 23-year-old MacDonald said he didn't spend a whole lot of time picking the welterweight champion's brain.

"I didn't really ask him anything. I mean, I watched (the fights), and he told me a few things, but I'm not the kind of guy that really wants to know everything about somebody," MacDonald said. "I really don't care. I mean, for all I know, BJ could completely have changed his training and maybe he's a Muay Thai fighter now. Who knows?"

The fight is part of a card that airs live at 5 p.m. and also includes a lightweight title bout between Nate Diaz and champion Benson Henderson, and a light heavyweight contest between Alexander Gustafsson and former champion Mauricio "Shogun" Rua.

Two fights have been dropped from Saturday night's card.

Heavyweight Lavar Johnson suffered a groin injury and will be unable to fight Brendan Schaub. Michael Chiesa was forced off the card due to illness. He was due to fight Marcus Levesseur, who will now be available as an emergency replacement in case another lightweight is injured.

■ MORE SURGERY FOR CRUZ - UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz underwent a second surgery on his torn anterior cruciate ligament last week after doctors discovered the fighter's body had rejected the first replacement.

Cruz first had surgery to repair both the ACL and medial collateral ligament in his left knee in June.

According to MMAJunkie .com, Cruz could be out an additional six to nine months due to the setback. He had been shooting to return between spring and summer of 2013. Cruz, 27, last fought in a unanimous decision victory over Demetrious Johnson on Oct. 1, 2011.

Renan Barao earned the interim title in Cruz's absence, but has been waiting for Cruz to return. He will now almost certainly make a defense of the interim belt.

The most logical opponent would be Michael McDonald.

Contact reporter Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5509. Follow him on Twitter: @adamhilllvrj.


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