UFC 212: Aldo vs Holloway Main Card Preview

UFC 212
Credit: Joao Baptista/Sherdog.com

UFC 212 goes down this Saturday with a main event featherweight title unification match between pound for pound great Jose Aldo and interim champion Max Holloway. The two will enter the fight with heavy momentum behind them, with Jose Aldo coming off a career  performance over pound for pound legend Frankie Edgar, and Max Holloway, long a hot contender in the division, being on a ten fight win streak. On paper the fight is expected to be a must watch clash, with many tabbing it as a fight of the year contender.

The co-main event features two of the best female MMA fighters today. Claudia Gadelha and Karolina Kowalkiewicz lock horns in an attempt to seal their position as number two in the 115lb division, and hopefully make a case for title shot in the near future.

The event will also host the last fight (potentially) for former light-heavyweight champion, middleweight title challenger, and MMA legend Vitor Belfort. The Phenom has announced that this will be his last fight with the UFC, and he will be moving on to other opportunities in the near future (though he seems to be hedging his bets on the matter). He will be fighting fellow MMA legend and former Strikeforce welterweight title challenger Nate Marquardt.

The UFC 212 card is one of the better cards of 2017, and is expected to be full of exciting scraps. Here is a breakdown of the entire main card.

5. Erick Silva vs. Yancy Medeiros

The main card will be kicked off by a welterweight encounter between Brazilian Erick Silva (19–7 (1)) and American Yancy Medeiros (14–4). The two will enter the fight after bouncing back in their previous bouts following some disappointing performances. While Medeiros made his welterweight debut in his last fight, earning a Performance of the Night bonus, Silva on the other hand bounced back from a two fight losing streak by defeating Luan Chagas in an amazing scrap. That bout earned the Brazilian Fight of the Night honors. At UFC 212, the two will try to continue their march upwards as they clash with one another.

Despite fighting in enemy territory, Medeiros is the favorite in this bout. He enters the fight with a record of 13-4 and is a multiple time post fight bonus award winner. However, if he wants to get in the win column in Rio de Janeiro Saturday, taking the fight to judges should be something he should not be keen on doing. Time and again we’ve seen questionable decisions handed out by hometown judges, and Medeiros would be wise to try and finish this fight, or ensure that any decision is definitive.

4. Paulo Borrachinha vs. Oluwale Bamgbose

Middleweight hot prospect Paulo Borrachinha will put his perfect record on the line against former Ring of Combat middleweight Champion Oluwale Bamgbose in the second bout on the UFC 212 main card. Where Borrachinha will enter the fight riding a nine fight win streak, Bamgbose has gone 1-2 in his last three. It is pretty obvious that if Bamgbose wants to stay relevant (and signed on) to the company he needs to get the win on Saturday. Borrachinha made a successful debut back in March by knocking out the 35-year-old Garreth McLellan. Facing Bamgbose after debuting against the lesser heralded McLellan will mean a huge step up in competition for the Brazilian. This will likely be one of the toughest fights of Borrachinha’s career to date, and if he wants to keep the tag of prospect around himself, and maintain his perfect record, then a win is a must.

Borrachinha will enter the fight as the favorite. That comes as no surprise as Bamgbose hasn’t looked good in his UFC run so far. The former Jungle fight Middleweight champion will likely keep his undefeated record, but given Bamgbose could be fighting for his job, it won’t be easy.

3. Vitor Belfort vs. Nate Marquardt

MMA legend Vitor Belfort will fight what could be his last fight under the UFC banner when he faces former Strikeforce champion Nate Marquardt. Belfort is a former light heavyweight champion and middleweight title challenger, who throughout his career has defeated the likes of current UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping, former UFC and Strikeforce middleweight champion Luke Rockhold, former UFC middleweight title challenger and Olympian Dan Henderson, MMA hall of famer Randy Couture and many more. Marquardt (35–17–2) too has a decorated record with wins over the likes of current UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley, and has faced legends like Anderson Silva in a career spanning over 50 fights.

This fight might not be relevant to the current middleweight title scene but it holds a place in the hearts of many MMA fans. Vitor Belfort has been a part of MMA for over twenty years and has long been one of the most prominent names in the MMA world. Should he leave the UFC, he leaves behind an amazing legacy and a decorated record that has unfolded across two full decades. Despite all that time, and three straight losses (one overturned to a No Contest), Belfort (25-13 (1NC)) is a favorite in this match. Fighting in his hometown, and with a slight edge in most categories, he has every possible advantage he needs.

2. Claudia Gadelha vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz

Pound for pound stalwarts and former UFC title challengers Claudia Gadelha and Karolina Kowalkiewicz will lock horns in the co-main event of the evening at UFC 212. Both will enter their strawweight fight attempting to seal their position as the second best fighters of the division. Where Claudia will enter the night coming off a unanimous decision win over Cortney Casey, Karolina will be looking to bounce back after losing to Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 205. Gadelha possess a pro record of 14-2, with wins over the likes of former WSOF champion Jessica Aguilar, current Invicta FC atomweight champion Ayaka Hamasaki, former Invicta FC atomweight champion Herica Tiburcio, and former UFC title challenger Valarie Létourneau. Karolina will for the first time enter a fight with a 1 in the loss column when she faces Claudia Gadelha at UFC 212. Holding a record of 10-1, she owns wins over the likes of MMA standout Kalindra Farai, superhot contender Mizuki Inoue, Ultimate Fighter contender Randa Markos, UFC title challenger Rose Namajunas and former kickboxing world champion Jasminka Cive.

This is hands down one of the most exciting fights on the UFC 212 card. The two women hold decorated records with their losses coming to one common nemesis, the pound for pound queen, Joanna Champion. A slight favorite, Claudia Gadelha is expected to rack up a win at the event. She is far superior on ground and has shown an ever improving skill set since changing camps.

1. José Aldo (c) vs. Max Holloway (ic)

The main event of the UFC 212 will see a featherweight title unification bout between Brazilian legend Jose Aldo and rising threat/interim champ Max Holloway. The bout happens to be the first title unification fight to be hosted in Brazil. Both men will enter the fight looking to seal their position as the best fighter of the division recently vacated by Conor McGregor. Aldo enters the night off a unanimous decision win over former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar at UFC 200. Holloway, meanwhile, comes in riding that aforementioned ten fight winning streak. Aldo (22-2) was the original UFC featherweight champion, being awarded the title after coming in with the WEC ranks. He holds wins over the likes of Chad Mendes, pound for pound great Frankie Edgar, Ricardo Lamas, Chan Sung Jung, former UFC bantamweight title challenger Urijah Faber, Cub Swanson and many more. Yet Max Holloway arguably enters the fight with greater momentum behind him. His ten fight streak includes wins over former WEC featherweight title challenger Cub Swanson, standout Jeremy Stephens, Ricardo Lamas, and former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis.

That said, Aldo is the favorite in the match. He is clearly the more experienced fighter and his last performance against Edgar was fantastic. He beyond a doubt holds the most decorated record in all of the featherweight division. However, counting Holloway out would be foolish. After all, the Hawaiian has not been defeated since 2013. This should turn out to be a can’t miss scrap!