Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight kickboxers Max Holloway and Jose Aldo will clash TONIGHT (Sat., Dec. 2, 2017) at UFC 218 inside Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan.
Holloway has accomplished incredible things in recent years. An 11-fight win streak on its own is fantastic, but Holloway toppled half of the division’s top contenders and the champion in the final stretch of that run. Now, he looks to defend his title officially for the first time. Even with Holloway’s stretch of greatness and the Conor McGregor loss on his record, Aldo stands strong as the best Featherweight in MMA history. He accepted this rematch on somewhat short-notice and stacked the odds further against himself, but Aldo was more than motivated for a shot to reclaim his belt.
Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Jose Aldo (UFC 212), Anthony Pettis (UFC 206), Ricardo Lamas (UFC 199), Cub Swanson (UFC on FOX 15), Jeremy Stephens (UFC 194)
Key Losses: Conor McGregor (UFC Fight Night 26), Dennis Bermudez (UFC 160)
Keys to Victory: Holloway is one of the sport’s premiere high-volume strikers. Building from strong fundamentals, Holloway utilizes lots of kickboxing tricks by switching stances mid-combination, suddenly shifting his weight for a new angle, or exploding into a flying technique.
The above video discusses how Holloway adjusted his stance to deal with Aldo’s low kicking prowess last time, and there’s no reason for the Hawaiian to deviate from what already worked.
It’s ultimately up to Aldo to change the game. For Holloway, his combination of pressure and smart boxing slowed Aldo down significantly. Much of the fight was competitive, but once Aldo’s defense was a touch less sharp, Holloway connected cleanly and ended the bout.
One of the most important things Holloway did in the first bout was to at least attempt a counter any time Aldo advanced. He didn’t land every time, but he did keep himself in exchanges and further tax Aldo’s conditioning.
It worked once, and it’s likely to work a second time.
Key Wins: Chad Mendes (UFC 179, UFC 142), Frankie Edgar (UFC 200, UFC 156), Ricardo Lamas (UFC 169)
Key Losses: Jose Aldo (UFC 212), Conor McGregor (UFC 194)
Keys to Victory: Aldo is one of the best Muay Thai strikers in UFC history. He’s focused more on his boxing recently, but at his best, Aldo uses short combinations to set up devastating kicks that can quickly cripple his opponent. For years, Aldo dominated the competition by being a brutal kickboxer who’s nearly impossible to take down.
The bottom line here is that Aldo was unable to kick effectively last time out. Whether that’s because of Holloway’s stance, an injury, or both is anyone’s guess, but Aldo was stuck boxing a long-limbed foe with a higher work rate.
Whatever happens tonight, Aldo cannot allow Holloway to beat him the same fashion. If he has to risk eating a counter right hand to land a low kick, that might just be a fair trade off.
However, that might not be the case. In the first match, Aldo had a few moments where his punches put Holloway on the defensive, which is the ideal time to low kick. If the low kick is not landing well early, I’d also like to see Aldo throw more kicks to the body and head, which should help disrupt his foe’s rhythm.
Bottom Line: This is a vital fight in the careers of both men.
For Holloway, it’s the real start of his legacy as a champion. Amazing win streak aside, champions that defend their belts are the ones who are remembered. Defeating Aldo a second time — and become the only man to accomplish that feat in the process — would be a huge statement for his first defense.
A loss is a setback, but it sets up a trilogy match.
The stakes are high for Holloway, but this is an absolute must-win bout for “Scarface.” If Aldo suffers a second consecutive title loss, it may be his final UFC title fight. At the very least, it will take a significant win streak to get him back into the mix.
Victory would be huge for Aldo. Rematches rarely serve the older man well in combat sports, particularly if the younger fighter won the initial bout. Becoming a three-time UFC champion is a fairly unique accomplishment, and doing so as a massive underdog makes it that much better.
TONIGHT at UFC 218, Max Holloway and Jose Aldo will face off for the second time. Which man will walk away with the belt?