The Size Up – UFC 212: Aldo vs. Holloway

Main Event: Featherweight Unification – José Aldo (c) vs. Max Holloway (ic)

Aldo Notable Fights: Frankie Edgar (2W), Conor McGregor (L), Chad Mendes (2W).

Holloway Notable Fights: Anthony Pettis (W), Conor McGregor (L), Ricardo Lamas (W).

Aldo Stat: 6 of his 9 UFC fights were against Americans, he has won them all.

Holloway Stat: He has won his last 10 fights in a row.

The Match Up
Sometimes we can get a little carried away in the world of MMA, but this one really is a meeting of two of the very best in the world today. In Jose Aldo, you have the first king of the featherweight division who was unflappable before and after his quick KO loss to Conor McGregor. While with Max Holloway you get the most improved fighter in the UFC over the last few years with an insatiable desire to be the very best. In all likelihood, we will be treated to five rounds or maybe less of high-quality MMA between two men in their prime.

Also likely here is a full fight of striking on the feet. Aldo is more likely to look to take the fight to the ground, and is definitely more skilled there, but he will have no problem standing toe-to-toe with the Hawaiian. There, he will utilise his elite leg kicks, magnificent jab and powerful hooks off of both hands while trying to take control of the pocket. Meeting him, Holloway will be checking those leg kicks and throwing some of his own while attempting to use his control of range and hand speed to beat Aldo to the punch.

That makes for an absolute war of a fight between two of the best in the world.

The Pick

My prediction for this fight is more for the way the fight will go rather than who it will go to.

Take Aldo’s close range, heavy-handed attack and put that with Holloway’s fast, varied, high output power striking and you have an absolutely classic. I see this one getting very bloody and very swollen very quickly. In a fight like that, it’s often who can hit hardest and whose chin can take the most damage that will decide the winner.

One key for me when looking at this match-up is the jab. Aldo is very active with his lead hand and uses it to control fights while Holloway sets a lot of his combinations up with long strikes from the outside before bouncing into range. Holloway may have the size advantage but Aldo is defensively stronger in that area which could be important here. If Aldo wins that battle to lead he stops Holloway’s entries, curtails his ability to land power punches at a high output and can control how he attacks better. While Holloway winning it would result in the exact opposite happening and give him ample opportunities to show the dangerous output he has become known for.

If that initial fight to be first doesn’t have a conclusive winner we may very well see two of the most attacking and aggressive fighters in the world letting go of power strikes in the pocket. And that should be extremely fun.

This is a tough one for me, but I’m taking Jose Aldo here. I think his ability to feint and land jabs, coupled with Holloway taking a few more shots than you’d like down the middle, will give him the advantage in terms of being able to inflict damage. While his superior defence and the threat of a takedown might help him to stay clear of additional damage from Max. I fully expect this to be a war of attrition and feel that the smarter, battle hardened veteran will perform the art of hitting while not getting hit more strategically.

Women’s Strawweight – Cláudia Gadelha vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz

Gadelha Notable Fights: Joanna Jedrzejczyk (2L), Jessica Aguilar (W), Cortney Casey (W).

Kowalkiewicz Notable Fights: Joanna Jedrzejczyk (L), Rose Namajunas (W), Mizuki Inoue (W).

Gadelha Stat: She is the only person to bring Joanna Jedrzejczyk to a split decision.

Kowalkiewicz Stat: 8 of her 11 fights have gone to a decision.

The Match Up

Like the main event, this is undeniably a meeting of two of the best fighters in the world in their respective divisions. With two title fights in the young strawweight division between them, both women, despite coming up short against Joanna Jedrzejczyk on each occasion, have shown that they are among the best fighters in the best division women’s MMA has to offer.

Although both women are in a very similar situation, they don’t fight in a similar way. Gadelha is a grinding, athletic type who is more effective on the feet in every fight but who loves to take her opponents down and beat them with arguably the best jiu-jitsu in the division. Whereas Kowalkiewicz prefers to establish herself on the feet with slick footwork and good takedown defense before taking her opponents apart piece by piece. In one sense, this could be described as striker vs. grappler, but that would be taking away from the well-roundedness of both competitors.

The Pick

In this fight, I think there are three areas which, placed in order, will decide who wins and who loses. The range. The takedowns. The striking.

Against Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Kowalkiewicz failed almost totally to establish the range at which she likes to fight. At her best, the Pole is loose and limber while moving in and out of range. And although she is more than capable of fighting in the pocket, it’s not where she is at her best.

Fighting at a closer range also leaves her more susceptible to the takedown, something which Gadelha will be well aware of. From outside of an arm’s length, it’s going to be very hard for the Brazilian to close the distance to get her opponent to the mat. But, if she can get into Kowalkiewicz’s strike radius then the possibility of grabbing a leg or shoving her against the fence is right there. That, in all likelihood, ends with Gadelha on top and Kowalkiewicz on her back.

If the takedown is there, obviously the striking is rendered null and void but if it can be stopped it opens up a whole load of opportunities. Gadelha is effective with her jab and combinations, and can be dangerous, but Kowalkiewicz is much more varied and lands with more precision.

But to get to the end, you have to get through the start. If Kowalkiewicz is light on her feet and attains the range then she will stop the takedown and have a great chance striking. If she doesn’t stay at long range, whether that’s decided by her or her opponent, then Gadelha can get that all important takedown and the only striking we’ll see will be done via ground and pound. For me, Gadelha is good enough to keep the distance close and although Kowalkiewicz has the ability to win striking, I’m not sure she has the tactical nous to keep the Brazilian away for long enough.

Middleweight – Vitor Belfort vs. Nate Marquardt

Belfort Notable Fights: Dan Henderson (2W, 1L), Jon Jones (L), Michael Bisping (W).

Marquardt Notable Fights: Tyron Woodley (W), Anderson Silva (L), Demian Maia (W).

Belfort Stat: He has UFC wins at heavyweight, light-heavyweight and middleweight.

Marquardt Stat: He has lost 7 of his last 10 fights.

The Pick: I think if it goes past round one Nate wins, but I think Vitor will get it done early.

Bantamweight – Raphael Assunção vs. Marlon Moraes

Assunção Notable Fights: TJ Dillashaw (1W, 1L), Aljamain Sterling (W), Bryan Caraway (W).

Moraes Notable Fights: Tyson Nam (W), Miguel Torres (W), Josh Hill (W).

Assunção Stat: He has won 8 of his last 10 fights.

Moraes Stat: This is a UFC debut for the former WSOF champion.

The Pick: I see this going to a decision and it will be very close but the extra power of Moraes will see him get the nod.

Additional Picks

Middleweight: Paulo Borrachinha vs. Oluwale Bamgbose – Borrachinha 
Welterweight: Erick Silva vs. Yancy Medeiros – Silva
Middleweight: Antônio Carlos Júnior vs. Eric Spicely – Spicely
Bantamweight: Johnny Eduardo vs. Matthew Lopez – Lopez
Bantamweight: Iuri Alcântara vs. Brian Kelleher – Iuri
Women’s Strawweight: Viviane Pereira vs. Jamie Moyle – Pereira
Welterweight: Luan Chagas vs. Jim Wallhead – Chagas
Flyweight: Marco Beltrán vs. Deiveson Alcântara – Alcântara

Bet Of The Week

Eric Spicely has looked really good lately and at 2/1 seems over priced.

Start Times

Early Prelims – Fight Pass at 11.30pm

Prelims – BT Sport 2 and Fight Pass at 1am

Main Card – BT Sport 2 at 3am

Big thanks to John Sheehan for the headline artwork. Follow him on twitter @johnsportraits

Listen to this week’s podcast where Sean and Graeme breakdown UFC 212 and look back at UFC Stockholm.l

Podcaster, lead MMA writer and analyst for SevereMMA. Host of the SevereMMA podcast, out every Sunday. Economics and Mathematics graduate from UCC. Also write for Sherdog. Previously of hov-mma and fightbooth. As heard on 2FM, Red FM, Today FM and more. Follow me on twitter for updates @SeanSheehanBA and on Facebook