For years, Dana White toured the world telling us with the passion of a television evangelist that Anderson Silva was the best fighter in the world.
Then Silva lost his middleweight title to Chris Weidman, and things changed.
In recent days, White has said that if Renan Barao successfully defends his bantamweight title on Saturday at UFC 169 in Newark, N.J., he'd probably be the best pound-for-pound fighter in the sport.
That came a day or so after White told reporters he felt Weidman would deserve such a ranking if he defeated Vitor Belfort later this year.
The one name, though, that White didn't mention, is a guy who should very much be in the conversation.
Jose Aldo hasn't lost in more than eight years. The list of former No. 1 contenders who have been beaten – destroyed – by Aldo is lengthy.
Given his 23-1 record, given his 16-fight winning streak, given his eight-plus-year unbeaten streak, shouldn't you be talking about Aldo as the best in the world, White was asked.
"Well, here is the thing," White said. "These guys are all so good. You see one of them do something that blows your [expletive] mind and you think, 'OK, who else can do that? He's the best.' And then in the next show, another guy does something that blows your mind again.
"Of course Aldo is there. Of course he is. He's an incredible fighter."
Urijah Faber, who lost a unanimous decision to Aldo at WEC 48 in 2010, has fought most of the elite featherweights and bantamweights in the world.
He hasn't met anyone, he said, who remotely compares to Aldo.
"The guy is just unbelievably good," Faber said.
Faber, though, is a far bigger star in the sport than Aldo. Aldo is one of those guys who tends to be missed.
He doesn't speak English, and he's as low-key as it gets. He doesn't like to boast and he never makes threats.
He's all about the fight and then going home and having fun. He'll defend his featherweight title on Saturday in the co-main event of UFC 169 against No. 1 contender Ricardo Lamas, then will cheer on Barao, his close friend, in the next fight.
He seems more invested in Barao's success than his own.
Asked about the opinions – including that of his boss – regarding the identity of best fighter in the world, Aldo essentially snorts.
"I don't care," he says. "All I care about is winning my fight, our team having a great night and then going home."
In a 12-minute interview with Yahoo Sports, Aldo said, "I don't care," at least five or six times.
• He's not worried about Lamas' particular skill set. "I don't care if people say he is this or that, I have a job to do, and I just want to go out there and do my job," he said.
• He says there is no friendly competition between Barao and himself, with one trying to outdo the other. "We're friends and teammates and brothers, and I want to win, and I want him to win," Aldo said. "I want him to look great. I don't care about any competition between us or any of that."
• He's not worried about rankings or polls. "They're someone else's opinion, and I can't control that, so really, I don't care that much about it," Aldo said. "If someone says something nice about me, that's nice, but it doesn't affect me."
On and on he goes. He's secure in the knowledge that he's one of the best fighters in the world regardless of where, or even if, he's ranked. He's confident that Barao, his Nova Uniao teammate, will defeat Faber.
Bring up Aldo's name to White and be prepared to listen for a while as he raves on and on.
And in the middle of his raves, White gives a little hint at what might be to come.
It's his wish, and he hasn't spoken to Aldo about it, but he muses about the possibility of an Aldo-Anthony Pettis superfight for the UFC lightweight title down the road if both keep winning.
"There are four, five, maybe six guys you could talk about who deserve to be in that conversation [as the best fighter in the world], and Aldo is one of those guys," White said. "I'm not saying this is going to happen, and he'll have to want it, but you can imagine if he went up to 155 and fought Pettis? That would be [expletive] insane.
"Those guys do things that just blow you away. A fight between them? Oh my God, how sick would that be?"
They nearly fought in August, before injuries changed the course of UFC history.
Typically, though, Aldo isn't of a mind to discuss it.
"Ricardo Lamas is the No. 1 contender and he's No. 1 for a reason," Aldo said. "I don't care about anything else but Ricardo Lamas. Anything else is just [speculation]. I have a job to do on Saturday and that is to defeat Lamas."
Somehow, you get the feeling that when the bell rings in the waning hours of Saturday night, defeating Lamas is something he'll care about.
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- Ricardo Lamas
- Jose Aldo