You might want to get all your blinking done now, because there won’t be time when two of the fastest fighters in UFC go toe-to-toe.
Brazilian featherweight champ, Jose Aldo, welcomes Interim strap holder, Max Holloway, to his manor at the Jeunesse Arena in Rio at UFC 212, with the undisputed crown on the line. Mark Sylvester looks forward to one of the most anticipated fights of the year.
A Clash of the Titans
There’s nothing like the clash of a legendary old gunslinger and a ferocious young pretender to get the hairs on the back of your neck dancing the Samba. And Aldo v Holloway is just that.
For 10 years, Jose Aldo had ruled the 145lb division with an iron fist, titanium knees and feet like baseball bats. With 18 wins on the bounce (seven in the UFC), and more wins and KO’s than any fighter in MMA, ‘Scarface’ was an unstoppable force of nature: a tornado with a dazzling takedown.
Then he tried to do a number on Conor McGregor’s fist, using his chin. This ended badly, resulting in the fickle finger of fate pickpocketing his unbeaten run, never-been-KO’d record, featherweight title AND aura of invincibility.
There’s a theory that a jaw that’s been iced is never the same again, and the world of MMA held its breath to see what kind of Jose Aldo would emerge from the wreckage of that night (UFC 194).
And, to be fair, Aldo came up with answers in the only fight since the incident with McGregor: a unanimous dismantling of former lightweight champ Frankie Edgar.
Despite looking just a tad gun-shy (and when you’ve been shot with a howitzer, who could blame him!), Aldo went through pretty much his entire playbook of sizzling strikes, breathtaking footwork, dazzling defence and supernatural counters that had Edgar walking into fists.
It was probably the confidence boost he needed to square up to ‘Blessed’ Max Holloway; the attack dog of the featherweight ranks, whose 17-0-3 record includes a current 10-fight winning streak and a third-round pulverising of former lightweight kingpin Anthony Pettis.
Holloway’s also the only featherweight to take McGregor the distance – mic drop!
Toe-to-toe could have been invented for this clash. The most likely scenario is that they’ll both be desperate to keep the fight vertical and trade leather-clad lightening bolts. Everything they throw is designed to KO. They might be featherweights, but the big hits will be felt by passengers on Rio High Street.
They may have only one KO defeat between them – from a total of 46 fights – but they haven’t met each other! Aldo can throw a blizzard of combos, while Holloway’s 4” height advantage will allow him to rain down bombs on a fighter who’s not used to facing a taller man. Such will be the ferocious exchange of heavy artillery that a stoppage is possible. It’s a steal at 11/5.
I simply can’t see Hawaiian Holloway taking Aldo down. The Brazilian simply has too much cage craft. However, despite Holloway’s spectacular sprawl ‘n’ brawl defence, the post-McGregor Scarface may decide to switch things up and take the fight to the ground. On the canvas, Aldo is more versatile and could go for the triangle hold. If you’re feeling lucky, you’ll get an Aldo submission win at 10-1.
But Holloway is undoubtedly the sort of puzzle Aldo hasn’t encountered before. He’s an exceptional and precocious talent and has said he’s been getting ready for this fight since he was 17, which is a lot of prep! He has pace and throws leather like it’s going out of fashion.
For Aldo, you feel it’s a stepping stone to revenge over McGregor. Only a stunning victory will make him the kind of glittering prize McGregor might be unable to refuse.
And, don’t forget, since McGregor moved to pastures slightly heavier, the 145lb division has been in disarray. This is a chance for either man to grab the undisputed gold and put their house in order.
Now I’m going to drop some serious intel on you. Forget Aldo’s loss to McGregor. It was seismic, but it was a fluke. Aldo’s been hit plenty and his jaw is just fine, thank you. And Holloway doesn’t hit as hard as McGregor.
So, the fight will go the distance. And to be honest, it could go either way, because these fighters do what they do better than almost anyone else in UFC. This is the definition of a proper, competitive octagon throw-down. If you fancy the view from the fence, you’ll get either fighter to win by a split decision at 4/1.
Personally, I don’t. Aldo IS still in his prime. He is STILL the best featherweight the planet’s ever seen. He’s still got too much in his locker for Holloway (whose time will come). Aldo by a unanimous decision at 5/2. McGregor to hit the sauna (odds not available yet).
For more UFC odds, take a look at Grosvenor Sport’s UFC betting.