Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Bantamweight kickboxers Thomas Almeida and Rob Font will square off this Saturday (Jan. 20, 2018) at UFC 220 inside TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.
At one point, Thomas Almeida was undefeated (21-0) and seen as an imminent title contender. A pair of losses in his last three fights slowed his rise, but the 26-year-old has lost to nothing but the best and is still an important player at 135 pounds. Font, meanwhile, won and finished four of his first five fights inside the Octagon, leading to a big opportunity last time out opposite Pedro Munhoz. Unfortunately, Font fell to the division’s cleanest guillotine choke after a strong start, but he’ll get another chance to break into the Top 10 here.
Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Brad Pickett (UFC 189), Yves Jabouin (UFC 186), Anthony Birchak (UFC Fight Night 77), Albert Morales (UFC Fight Night 100)
Key Losses: Cody Garbrandt (UFC Fight Night 88), Jimmie Rivera (UFC on FOX 25)
Keys to Victory: Almeida is a Muay Thai machine who throws a ridiculous number of punches, kicks, knees and elbows until either he or his opponent hits the mat. His defense still isn’t the best, but Almeida’s offensive output is legitimately scary.
On the whole, it seems like Font has similar issues. He’s got a diverse array of dangerous striking techniques, but once opponents start to connect his game falls apart a bit. With that in mind, whichever man is moving forward is very likely winning. When both men are looking to push the other backward, the fighter who succeeds generally has an advantage in power or conditioning.
Both of those factors seem to favor Almeida, who throws more strikes and has nearly three times the number of knockout wins as his opponent. If the Brazilian comes out firing, Font will likely be the one reacting, and that definitely favors the Chute Boxe product.
Key Wins: George Roop (UFC 175), Douglas Silva de Andrade (UFC 213), Matt Schnell (TUF 24 Finale)
Key Losses: John Lineker (UFC 198), Pedro Munhoz (UFC Fight Night 119)
Keys to Victory: Font is a skilled and dangerous kickboxer who occasionally reminds fight fans of his slick ground game as well. He has all the tools to be a top contender, but so far a breakthrough win has eluded him.
Perhaps the most important factor for Font in this bout is composure. Last time out, Font was looking good before Munhoz tagged him with a stiff punch. Font didn’t like it, reacted with a poorly set up takedown, and the Brazilian strangled him shortly thereafter. Similarly, Font shelled up a bit once Lineker started to land, allowing his foe to dictate the fight.
Almeida is going to fire a dozen strikes per minute, and some of them will land. It’s inevitable, and Font has to stick to the gameplan if he’s going to upset Almeida.
Ideally, Font will make his opponent reach and counter. His punches pack real power, the type that can shake Almeida up and deter him from advancing so constantly. If Font can score some early hard shots and set the tone, it will become far easier for him to land clean shots or even pick up takedowns.
Bottom Line: Both men really need a win to continue climbing the Bantamweight ladder.
For Almeida, it’s a small step back in competition and chance to get back on track. He needs to put a couple victories together before trying to knock off a Top 5-ranked fighter again, and that win streak should start at UFC 220. If he’s unable to defeat Font, he’s going to fall down the rankings in a big way, and it’ll require a serious win streak for him to be seen as a title contender once more. In Font’s case, this is his third attempt to defeat a ranked opponent. He’s currently at No. 14, but going winless (0-3) against ranked foes would be a bad sign. Font may have clear talent, but that doesn’t really matter if he can turn that talent into significant victories.
At the same time, Almeida is arguably the best fighter that Font has faced yet. If Font comes through with a big win, it pushes him closer to the Top 10 and gets him back on track toward the division’s elite.
At UFC 220, Thomas Almeida and Rob Font will open the main card. Which man will have his hand raised?