UFC 212: Who Is The Featherweight King?

Date: Saturday 3rd June

Location: Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. 3am (BST)

Venue: Jeunesse Arena

José Aldo vs Max Holloway

A busy month for the UFC kicks off with UFC 212 in the fighting city of Rio de Janeiro, as two champions collide in a long awaited unification bout between featherweight champion José Aldo, and featherweight interim champion Max Holloway.

One of the best fighters in the world takes on another hungry challenger who currently holds the interim championship. Max Holloway is in his prime, riding an incredible 10-fight winning streak and won the interim belt after finishing Anthony Pettis at UFC 206. This was after Aldo was promoted from interim champion when Conor McGregor had to relinquish his title due to applying his focus on the lightweight division.    

The two now meet after Holloway’s impeccable performances and McGregor-like attempts at getting under the skin of Aldo in a clash with an abundance of talent. Aldo has thoroughly proven his class over the years, with an incredible 18-fight win streak before McGregor swooped in and snatched his belt. He brilliantly bounced back in his most recent fight against Frankie Edgar and arguably put on his best ever performance. However, Holloway is incredibly focused and determined and seems to improve drastically each time he steps back inside the cage.

With the two best takedown defence percentages in the division, we can expect to see their masterful striking skills in a tactical yet brutal battle. Holloway has the height advantage but crucially not the reach advantage as this was a huge factor in Aldo’s first loss in 19 fights. Although Holloway is only 25 years old, he is vastly experienced but is yet to taste the championship rounds which Aldo is very familiar with. The Hawaiian does have an exceptional gas tank but the wars in which Aldo has came out on top in the fourth and fifth rounds will give him a huge edge going into this fight.

Holloway has all the tools to emerge as the new king of the division and we can only expect that we will see an even more improved fighter. However, Aldo remains extremely dangerous wherever the fight can go.

See below for a statistical breakdown:

Aldo v Holloway

Cláudia Gadelha vs Karolina Kowalkiewicz 

Two of the best strawweights in the world face off in the co-main event, in which the winner will solidify themselves as the number one contender for Joanna Jedrzejczyk’s title. The only opponent both these ladies have lost to, Cláudia Gadelha has fought Jedrzejczyk twice in two wars in which she lost via decisions, whilst Karolina Kowalkiewicz also lost via a decision, the first loss of her career.

Gadelha bounced back from her last loss to Jedrzejczyk with a win over Cortney Casey, whilst this will be Kowalkiewicz’s first fight since her defeat. Gadelha is a ferocious grappler and although Kowalkiewicz boasts some of the best takedown defence in the division (87%), it is guaranteed to be tested more in this fight than any bout she has had before, so her movement and stamina will be crucial in order to utilise her exceptional Muay Thai and striking skills.

Although these tough ladies have different skill sets, this fight is very close to call but the Jedrzejczyk link may be the deciding factor for the eventual winner. Gadelha has practice with the perfect training partner, as eight rounds against Jedrzejczyk (who could be argued is a superior version of Kowalkiewicz) with virtually identical physical attributes, strengths and weaknesses is ideal preparation. On the other hand, Kowalkiewicz has the blueprint of how to defeat Gadelha. She will look at her two meetings with the champion and will be confident she has the ability to emulate Jedrzejczyk and walk away with the win.

See below for a statistical breakdown:

Gadelha v KK

Vitor Belfort vs Nate Marquardt 

Two veterans and legends of the sport meet who are struggling to find any consistency at the latter stages of their career. Vitor Belfort and Nate Marquardt are desperate for a win but are fully expected to put on one of the most exciting fights on the card. 

Belfort looked absolutely terrifying up until 2015, where he was taking the heads of some of the best fighters in the middleweight division. He dispatched and disfigured the likes of Dan Henderson, Luke Rockhold and Michael Bisping before failing a drugs test and since has looked remarkably different, both physically and in his performances. His form reflects this and although his last fight was a ‘no contest’, it was another poor showing, getting completely outclassed and beaten up by Kelvin Gastelum.

No stranger to the odd failed drugs test himself, Marquardt is also past his prime, unable to string two wins together since 2012. On paper, it is difficult to call between two fighters so evenly matched, but let’s hope they turn up on the night to put on a show for the fans.

See below for a statistical breakdown:

Belfort v Marquardt

Erick Silva vs Yancy Medeiros 
Another popular Brazilian looking to excite the home fans, Erick Silva takes on fellow veteran Yancy Medeiros. Medeiros made a successful debut at welterweight in his last outing against Sean Spencer, securing a ‘performance of the night’ bonus with a submission finish. Welterweight certainly feels like his home after trying three other weight classes. He began his career at light heavyweight (205 lbs), dropped down to middleweight (185 lbs) and then lightweight (155 lbs).

Instead of earning money through weight loss DVD’s, he is earning his keep through performance bonuses, and will look to earn a fifth with a win over Silva. Not to be outdone, Silva has earned a staggering seven performance bonuses from his 13 UFC fights, becoming not just a fan-favourite in Brazil, but all over the globe. This will surely be a ‘fight of the night’ contender.

See below for a statistical breakdown:

Silva v Medeiros

Paulo Borrachinha vs Oluwale Bamgbose 
Two up-and-coming powerhouses kick off the main card, with the undefeated Paulo Borrachinha welcoming Oluwale Bamgbose to Brazil. Borrachinha looks to be a real weapon in the middleweight division, finishing all of his nine fights. However, another tough UFC test will determine his calibre in the form of Bamgbose, who also boasted an undefeated record before he came to the UFC. Another UFC win for Borrachinha could propel him towards the rankings, whereas another loss for Bamgbose could be terminal to his UFC career. As Borrachinha has only had one UFC fight, the stats would not give an accurate representation, so we have broken down the finishing of these ‘finishers’.

See below for a statistical breakdown:

PB v OB