ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – After UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo (21-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) had to pull out of his July title fight with Erik Koch (13-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC), the presumption was the bout would simply be put on hold till Aldo was ready.
That may prove to be the case. But as UFC president Dana White has become all too familiar with in recent months – maybe not.
After near-consensus No. 2 featherweight Hatsu Hioki (26-5-2 MMA, 2-1 UFC) was upset by Ricardo Lamas (12-2 MMA, 3-0 UFC) on Friday at UFC on FX 4, and Cub Swanson (17-5 MMA, 2-1 UFC) knocked off
Ross Pearson(13-6 MMA, 5-3 UFC), White said he's unsure if the Aldo-Koch fight will hold.
"Now that Aldo's out, you know how that stuff works," White said at Friday's post-event news conference, which MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) attended.
UFC on FX 4 took place at Revel Atlantic City in New Jersey. The event's main card aired on FX, and the prelims aired on FUEL TV and streamed on Facebook.
Lamas won a unanimous decision against Hioki, who had started his UFC career 2-0 with a controversial split decision win over
George Roop, followed by a more dominant performance against Bart Palaszewski this past February at UFC 144 in his home country of Japan.
After that win, Hioki, who vacated his Sengoku featherweight title to sign with the UFC this past June, was considered to be the next challenger for Aldo. But in a rare move, Hioki actually turned down a shot at the champ, saying he needed one more fight to show he was ready.
That fight came Friday against Lamas, but Hioki had to survive multiple guillotine chokes against "The Bully," and while he may have survived the fight without tapping – to Lamas' amazement later – he didn't survive the judges and lost 29-28 across the board.
White said Hioki turning down a chance at Aldo must have been the right move.
"You have to understand that if a kid feels he's not ready for a title shot – if you lose a title shot it takes you a couple years to get back there," White said. "And apparently he was right – he wasn't ready. He didn't win tonight, and it wasn't for the title. There's nothing wrong with a guy saying, 'I'm not ready.'"
While White didn't say outright that Koch is out of the title fight when Aldo is ready to return, likely in late fall, recent UFC history has proved that when fighters don't wait around, they sometimes fight their way out of the shots they were previously given – and new top contenders emerge.
Lamas improved to 3-0 as a UFC featherweight after fighting at lightweight in the WEC. And one of those wins was a submission of Swanson this past November at UFC on FOX 1, which would no doubt put him ahead in the pecking order. But since his loss to Lamas, Swanson now has two straight knockout wins.
"It was a great win for him – definitely a big win," White said of Lamas. "I thought (Swanson) looked phenomenal tonight, and we'll see what happens. I'm really happy with both their performances, but Swanson looked awesome tonight. … I'm really impressed with his performance, and Pearson's a guy I have a lot of respect for. Not only did (Swanson) win, he knocked him out. So we'll see what happens."