Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Bantamweight talents Jose Aldo and Pedro Munhoz will collide this weekend (Sat., July 31, 2021) at UFC 265 from inside Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.
Consider me among the analysts who thought Aldo’s move to 135 pounds was a poor decision, but the 34-year-old Brazilian quickly proved us incorrect and himself plenty capable of hanging with the division’s best. Coming off his first official Bantamweight win, Aldo is looking to build momentum back toward the title mix. Munhoz, meanwhile, would be in a really great position were it not for the split-decision opposite Frankie Edgar going against him. As it stands, “Young Punisher” is quite possibly the most dangerous ninth-ranked contender in the sport, a whirling ball of calf kicks and power punches that is seemingly impossible to hold down.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Chad Mendes (UFC 179, UFC 142), Frankie Edgar (UFC 200, UFC 156), Renato Moicano (UFC 232), Jeremy Stephens (UFC on FOX 30), Marlon Vera (UFC Vegas 17)
Key Losses: Max Holloway (UFC 218, UFC 212), Conor McGregor (UFC 194), Petr Yan (UFC 251), Alexander Volkanovski (UFC 237), Marlon Moraes (UFC 245)
Keys to Victory: Bantamweight Jose Aldo could very easily be champion of the world were the fights just a bit shorter. Aldo remains a brilliant striker with incredible defensive wrestling, but it does have to be noted that he’s slowing down earlier in bouts, as a result of either aging or the new weight cut.
Munhoz, on the flip side, thrives in high-volume wars — his gas tank just doesn’t run out. Last time out, Aldo faced a similar challenge in Marlon Vera, but the veteran smartly took the path of least resistance by wrestling “Chito” when the going got tough, allowing him to score the decision nod. Unfortunately, Munhoz’s takedown defense means that audible is less likely to work.
As such, Aldo’s focus has to be on slowing the pace. “Junior” must be the man choosing when and where exchanges happen, and the only way for that to happen is if Munhoz respects Aldo’s power. Whether it’s to the jawline, liver or lead leg, Aldo has to land something hard to keep his opponent honest.
If Aldo is able to set a pace he can maintain, he’s the better technical kickboxer by a fair measure.
Record: 17-5 (1)
Key Wins: Cody Garbrandt (UFC 235), Bryan Caraway (TUF 28 Finale), Rob Font (UFC Fight Night 119), Justin Scoggins (UFC Fight Night 100), Brett Johns (UFC 227)
Key Losses: Aljamain Sterling (UFC 238), Frankie Edgar (UFC on ESPN 15), Jimmie Rivera (UFC Fight Night 77), Rafael Assuncao (UFC 170)
Keys to Victory: Munhoz has an iron chin and deep gas tank, taking full advantage of those attributes with a strategy of pressure. The Brazilian throws everything with power, looking to break down his opponent via pace and calf kicks alike. Oh, and he also happens to have the division's best guillotine choke!
As explained above, this bout is likely to be determined by pace. Aldo wants to exchange at a measured rate, whereas Munhoz should be looking to force his foe into exhaustion, at which point everything becomes far easier.
Of course, Munhoz cannot simply try to run through all of Aldo’s offense regardless of his historically solid jawline. He has to be a bit more methodical in his pressure, similar to Petr Yan’s performance vs. the former Featherweight kingpin. If Munhoz keeps his defense tight while actively staying right in Aldo’s face, the pressure alone will go a long way in fatiguing his foe.
Perhaps another major weapon for Munhoz could be the snap kick. He does a great job of poking his opponents in the gut from the boxing range with that weapon, which is great for quickly exhausting opponents.
This is, quite simply, a tremendous fight.
At this stage of the game, Aldo going on a final title run appears rather unlikely. However, it is not yet impossible, and each win against highly-ranked opposition pushes him closer to earning a second Bantamweight title shot. While his first bout vs. Yan ended rather miserably, someone like Aljamain Sterling would be a much more favorable match up if “Funkmaster” manages to retain his title.
In short, it’s too early to count out Aldo entirely.
Munhoz is in a similar dark horse position. His recent performances have ranked among his all-time best, but it does have to be mentioned that the Brazilian is 34 years of age with a loss to the current champion. That’s not exactly ideal, meaning it will take multiple wins to return him to the title mix. Fortunately, Aldo’s name still carries much value, so a strong victory this weekend could result in a big push up the ladder.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 265 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN2/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
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At UFC 265, Jose Aldo and Pedro Munhoz will go to war. Which man remains standing when the dust settles?