UFC Vegas 44: Rob Font Looks to Destroy Jose Aldo’s Fountain of Youth

Rob Font and Jose Aldo, UFC Vegas 44
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - DECEMBER 03: (L-R) Opponents Rob Font and Jose Aldo of Brazil face off during the UFC Fight Night weigh-in at UFC APEX on December 03, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Former champion José Aldo appears to be aging in reverse as of late, but surging contender Rob Font is looking to destroy his Fountain of Youth at UFC Vegas 44.

In 2021, one of the prevailing storylines is that each athlete every night is in control of their own destiny no matter what their career trajectory has been before.  In the same vein as the championship triumphs of Charles Oliveira and Glover Teixeira, so too has Rob Font literally fought his way back into the title conversation ahead of his biggest challenge on Saturday night.  You’d be forgiven if you didn’t see it coming.  With a 3-3 mark in his first six fights in the UFC, a future title contender was not what he looked like going into 2018 despite holding a respectable 15-4 record overall.

It began with a victory over future Bellator bantamweight champion Sergio Pettis in 2018 in what was Pettis’s last fight in the UFC.  Then he bested Ricky Simon and shocked former title challenger Marlon Moraes by first round knockout.  But earlier this year, he had his toughest test as he headlined his first UFC main event against Cody Garbrandt.  While “No Love” had been away after dealing with medical issues, he was still expected to be in talks for a title fight had he won after recording one of the best knockouts of 2020.  Instead, Font went on to outpoint Garbrandt for a comprehensive victory to have his own career breakthrough.

If you knew nothing about Jose Aldo and only saw his last performance, you would be dumbfounded to hear about the miles he’s logged in the fight game.  After more than a decade as either a champion or in title contention, Aldo looked as if he had found the Fountain of Youth in the way he absolutely dismantled perennial contender Pedro Munhoz with speed and precision.  Though the numbers didn’t tell the whole story, the facts were that he entered the bout at 34 years old and on a 3-5 run that did not suggest he was in the best days of his career.  Instead, the Aldo that fought that night in Houston looked on par with any version of him that had been seen in years prior.

But while he proved that he had plenty of fight left, Aldo is in his own precarious position.  The bantamweight division is not lacking in elite talent as Aljamain Sterling, Petr Yan, and TJ Dillashaw are all expected to be in title fights in 2022.  A second shot at bantamweight gold will be a long shot for Aldo in the near future, meaning he could be at least another year away from another shot at the title.  That could mean the next twelve months would see him face up to two more formidable adversaries before he gets another booking for UFC gold.

The key for Munhoz will be to counter the speed of Aldo and be prepared to have to drag the fight into deep waters.  Footwork and shot selection will be key to avoiding falling into an early deficit against the early assault from Aldo.  Should Font effectively avoid exchanges with the former champion, he should be the fresher fighter to go to work in the later rounds where he may be more likely to get the former champion down and test his jiu-jitsu off his back.  For Aldo, pacing himself and using his multi-faceted striking attack will be the key as he could find himself going into the later rounds with Font.  Picking his spots to put combinations together and mixing up his attack will help him to get ahead early and do damage.

While the division is not lacking for challenges, many expect Saturday’s winner will take on former champion Dominick Cruz in 2022 should “The Dominator” be successful in his fight with Pedro Munhoz next week.  Another option could be another former champion in TJ Dillashaw.  While Dillashaw is seen as having locked in an immediate title shot, he is currently expected to have to wait for Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan to have their rematch next year.  Should he elect to stay active, a fight with Aldo or Font would make sense when examining the title picture.