Ricardo Lamas will be the first person to admit he did not have his best night when he fought UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo earlier this year.
Lamas lost a lopsided decision to the champion and he’s definitely not the first fighter in history that Aldo made look bad en route to another title defense. Lamas returned to form with a win over Aldo’s teammate Hacran Dias in June, but it still didn’t erase the memory of what he did wrong in the biggest fight of his life.
"I was my biggest enemy," Lamas told FOX Sports. "I wasn’t letting go, I was being too tentative, and waiting too much. I wasn’t pulling the trigger. Ultimately, you’re not going to beat a guy like Aldo like that."
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Lamas looks back on the experience and realizes he was very much a deer caught in the headlights of his first UFC title fight. Prior to the bout with Aldo, Lamas had never even been in a co-main event slot during his UFC career.
Dealing with the scrutiny and attention that goes along with a main event title fight was something Lamas just wasn’t ready for and it definitely affected him in the days leading up to his bout with Aldo.
(Mendes) was showing that Aldo was human and he can be hurt like anybody else. I think that lit a fire under everybody’s ass in the featherweight division
— Ricardo Lamas
"The whole week leading up to it I was being shuffled around from interview to interview and doing press. There were days where I couldn’t even get a workout in to get my weight down during fight week because we were doing so much stuff. It was kind of that unknown, having never been in a title fight before," Lamas explained.
Lamas took the loss in stride and moved forward with his career, but he’s not giving up on earning another shot against Aldo in the future. He got even more excited when he saw the battle between Aldo and Chad Mendes in October.
Mendes gave Aldo everything he could handle for five rounds and that was after he suffered a knockout loss to the champion in their first campaign. Lamas knows he messed up in his first fight with Aldo, but he promises a much different result for a rematch.
"Watching that fight with Chad (Mendes) and (Jose) Aldo gave me a ton of inspiration," Lamas said. "He was showing that Aldo was human and he can be hurt like anybody else. I think that lit a fire under everybody’s ass in the featherweight division."
In his upcoming fight against Dennis Bermudez this weekend at UFC 180, the roles are reversed a bit when it comes to Lamas’ standing in the division and his opponent trying to get where he’s been.
Bermudez is riding high on a seven-fight win streak, but Lamas isn’t convinced he actually won all of those.
"I think he’s a dangerous fighter, he’s a good fighter, but there are definitely some fights that I watched of his that could have went the other way and wouldn’t have been upset or surprised if it did," Lamas said. "His fight against Matt Grice and his fight against Max Holloway were two decisions that could have easily gone the other way and I don’t think anybody would have had a problem with it.
"I guess he does enough in the judges’ eyes to pull it off. But that’s only two out of the seven. He has another five he’s won convincingly so that’s a nice streak in and of itself right there."
Lamas doesn’t plan on allowing Bermudez to get to No. 8 while picking up a win over a legitimate top five opponent. Instead, he wants to turn the tables, beat a guy on a big win streak and insert his name back into title contention.
"He’s a great young fighter," Lamas said. "But I feel like I’m a little better in every category of the sport."