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UFC 251 card: Jose Aldo vs Petr Yan full fight preview

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Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Bantamweight strikers Jose Aldo and Petr Yan will duel this Saturday (July 11, 2020) at UFC 251 from “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

If Aldo had retired in 2017 following his pair of losses to Max Holloway, the Brazilian would still go down in history as an all-time great, the legendary low kicker who destroyed wrestlers and didn’t lose for nearly a decade. However, Aldo is still on the quest to recapture gold, though this is likely his final opportunity. Alternatively, Yan only joined UFC two years ago! However, the boxer was already facing pretty fearsome competition in Russia, so it should not be a surprise that his transition into the Octagon was smooth. He’s risen through the ranks with remarkable speed, but he still faces a major obstacle to the title.

Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:

Jose Aldo

Record: 28-6
Key Wins: Chad Mendes (UFC 179, UFC 142), Frankie Edgar (UFC 200, UFC 156), Renato Moicano (UFC 232), Jeremy Stephens (UFC on FOX 30), Ricardo Lamas (UFC 169)
Key Losses: Max Holloway (UFC 218, UFC 212), Conor McGregor (UFC 194), Alexander Volkanovski (UFC 237), Marlon Moraes (UFC 245)
Keys to Victory: Aldo underwent an interesting transition from Muay Thai dynamo to slick boxer. All the while, Aldo remained largely impossible to takedown, and the Brazilian throws everything with power.

“Junior” has stopped 17 foes via knockout.

Aldo is likely the best boxer Yan has ever faced, which creates the potential for a uniquely high-level MMA boxing match. Given the propensity for both men to do such effective work with their hands, the jab becomes especially important. In Aldo’s case, he wants to establish the jab to help interrupt Yan’s long, shifting combinations.

In addition, flashing the jab and ripping the body would be lovely to see.

Besides an additional focus on jabbing, Aldo’s footwork has to be on point. Jimmie Rivera boxed quite well against Yan and generally was winning exchanges, but whenever his back was put to the fence, suddenly Yan was dealing out major damage. There is little room for error against Yan, so Aldo must avoid making a similar mistake.

Petr Yan

Record: 14-1
Key Wins: Jimmie Rivera (UFC 238), Urijah Faber (UFC 245), John Dodson (UFC Fight Night 145), Douglas Silva de Andrade (UFC 232)
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: Few fighters have as well a put together strategy and overall MMA game as Yan. Yan simply excels as a pressure fighter, able to push the pace and do considerable damage without exposing his own chin any more than is necessary.

Volume is the key against Aldo, who seemingly cannot resist throwing back. As the Holloway bouts showed, Aldo can be duped into exhausting himself with active feinting and frequent exchanges. Three years later and with an additional water cut to Bantamweight, that’s likely even more true now.

Aside from pressure, feints, and activity, Yan would be wise to kick, particularly from Southpaw. As mentioned, Aldo simply doesn’t kick all that often anymore. It could be age, injury, or simple hesitance to pull the trigger. It hardly matters which to Yan, who should be shifting on his right cross then blasting the left kick whenever possible.

Aldo will have a reach advantage, but that’s less significant if Yan is the one landing with his legs.

Bottom Line

Like it or not, this is for the undisputed Bantamweight title.

Henry Cejudo’s sudden retirement left the division in a strange place, and while this may not be the most deserving title match up, it’s still a great fight! For Aldo, it’s a final chance to recapture gold, as well as become a two-division champ. The stakes are clear, as Aldo is extremely unlikely to ever earn another title shot if this one falls through.

The Brazilian’s back is to the wall.

As for Yan, the 27-year-old striker undoubtedly has a long future in the title mix. However, this is his opportunity to really complete his meteoric rise through the ranks and capture a belt. Winning the title in less than two years is a pretty incredible accomplishment in the modern era of UFC, and a title win sets Yan up for huge opportunities for the rest of his UFC career.

Remember that will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 251 fight card this weekend, starting with the ESPN+/Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN+/ESPN at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC 251: “Usman vs. Masvidal” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

At UFC 251, Jose Aldo and Petr Yan will go to war for the Bantamweight title. Which man will leave with a new belt?