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Anthony Pettis reflects on past, Jose Aldo and superfight that wasn’t before UFC Fight Night 183

For a while, it was one of the more tantalizing potential UFC super fights: Anthony Pettis, the lightweight champion in his prime, against Jose Aldo, the longtime featherweight king.

Regardless of whether you thought Pettis (23-10 MMA, 10-9 UFC) should drop a weight class or Aldo (28-7 MMA, 10-6 UFC) should go up one, the bout seemed like a dream fight just waiting to be made.

The matchup, however, came along just a little bit too soon for the champ-champ era, so it never happened. Now, both competitors will share a card Saturday at UFC Fight Night 183, and there’s a twist: Aldo, who will meet Marlon Vera, is now a bantamweight, and Pettis, who meets Alex Morono, is competing at welterweight.

Looking back at the fight that could have been, Pettis can’t help but trip a little over where things are now.

“Seeing Jose Aldo go down to ’35, I know how much dedication that takes, man,” Pettis told MMA Junkie on Wednesday. “I went down to ’45, and that was brutal, bro. That was a hard weight cut. It was a hard process. It’s a life-changing thing. You gotta change your lifestyle. Obviously you know how dedicated that guy is.”

Pettis also found himself thinking about how he’s changed over the years, from the temperamental competitor who was able to pull off space-age moves in the blink of an eye to a fighter who can still put on exciting bouts, but also is more patient and mature in his approach.

“When I think about my approach to the game back when I was younger, I would try to get angry, and I would use this anger to fight. It would look beautiful. I would try to go in there and submit my guys. But now my mindset is just, fight night’s Saturday, and I have to be present in those 15 minutes, and the emotion I put into between the weigh-ins and focus on all that other stuff, the focus should be on those 15 minutes in the octagon.”

Then and now, Pettis has respect for his fellow former champ and would-be foe.

“We were matched up at 145 pounds, and honestly it didn’t happen for whatever reason,” Pettis said of Aldo. “I respect the guy, man.”

For more from Pettis, watch the video above.

UFC Fight Night 183 takes place Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. The card streams on ESPN+.

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