MMAOB staff writer Adam Martin takes a deeper look at one of three title fights at UFC 251, a five-round vacant UFC bantamweight title bout between champion Petr Yan and Jose Aldo. The event takes place on Saturday, July 11 at Fight Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Petr Yan (-235)
Yan (14-1) is the No. 3 ranked bantamweight in the UFC. The 27-year-old Russian is undefeated in the UFC with a 6-0 record and he’s riding a nine-fight win streak overall with notable victories over Urijah Faber, Jimmie Rivera, John Dodson, and Douglas Silva de Andrade. Yan is one of the top strikers in the division and when combined with stellar takedown defense you can see why he’s undefeated. Yan has been able to thwart his opponents’ takedown attempts and keep his fights standing where no one has been able to best him. He has plenty of knockdown power and has shown that in the UFC with three knockout wins in six tries. In addition to his striking acumen, he’s also shown a great chin and solid cardio as he’s made his way to the top of the 135lbs division.
Jose Aldo (+195)
Aldo (28-6) is the No. 6 ranked bantamweight in the UFC and the former long-time UFC featherweight champion. The 33-year-old Brazilian future Hall of Famer is 10-5 overall in the UFC with notable wins over Frankie Edgar, Jeremy Stephens, Chan Sung Jung, Chad Mendes, and Ricardo Lamas. Throughout his career, Aldo has been an incredible champion as he’s used his elite striking attack and stellar takedown defense to be at the top of the game for a decade. However, he has fallen on hard times as of late as he’s lost four of his last six fights overall, including back-to-back decision losses to Marlon Moraes and Alex Volkanovski in his last two fights. To be fair to Aldo, he’s been fighting elite competition and many thought he deserved to beat Moraes, but there’s no doubt he’s on the downside of his career. Nevertheless, he’s getting the chance to fight for the belt here against Yan, and if he wins the fight, he’ll be back on top of the MMA mountain once again.
Fight Breakdown: This should be an awesome fight between two fighters who prefer to stand and trade on the feet. Fight fans should be in for a treat here as these are two of the top strikers in the UFC bantamweight division and we should be in store for a fun title fight that will crown a champion at 135lbs. Having said that, you have to favor Yan here. He’s unbeaten so far in the UFC and has shown few flaws in his game, he’s six years younger than Aldo, and I’m still not completely sold on Aldo going five hard rounds after a tough weight cut. Although stylistically Aldo can make this fight interesting with his striking, I just think ultimately Yan’s speed and power will be the difference here. I see Yan outstriking Aldo en route to a decision, with a late stoppage also a possibility if Aldo tires.
Prediction: Petr Yan wins via decision