The Complete Guide to UFC 212: Aldo vs. Holloway

Scott Harris@ScottHarrisMMAMMA Lead WriterJune 1, 2017

The Complete Guide to UFC 212: Aldo vs. Holloway

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    Jose Aldo
    Jose AldoBuda Mendes/Getty Images

    UFC 212 goes down Saturday from one of the world's great capitals of combat, Rio de Janeiro.

    What better reason to return to this fighting mecca than by putting one of the best Brazilian fighters in MMA history back into action?

    Yes, it's featherweight champion and all-time featherweight GOAT Jose Aldo. On Saturday, he'll be taking on interim champ Max Holloway, who has only been pining and posturing and working his way toward a shot at Aldo for his entire professional life.

    Until that McGregor guy comes back to the division—or if he does—this is the most compelling featherweight fight the UFC can make.

    In the co-main event, another Brazilian notable, women's strawweight Claudia Gadelha, takes on fellow contender Karolina Kowalkiewicz.

    Oh, and there's the purported final fight for a certain national hero as well. 

    There are 12 fights on the card, and this is your complete guide to each one of them. Ready to go? Let's go.

The Fight Pass Prelims

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    Viviane Pereira
    Viviane PereiraJeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Flyweight

    Marco Beltran (8-4) vs. Deiveson Figueiredo (11-0)

    Unless you're up on The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America, you probably don't know Marco Beltran. He's had some unusual moments in his UFC career, including an up-kick near-knockout. Mainly, he's a huge flyweight with a grinder's game.

    Deiveson Figueiredo is well-rounded with a penchant for the fast finish; only three of his pro fights have left the first round, and only one has gone the distance. That is something for a flyweight. He's dynamic but technically sloppy. In his UFC debut, something will have to give, and unfortunately for action lovers, it's Figueiredo.

    Prediction: Beltran, unanimous decision.

         

    Welterweight

    Luan Chagas (14-2-1) vs. Jim Wallhead (29-10)

    It's hard to believe this is only Jim Wallhead's second UFC fight after a 12-year career. He's exactly what you might imagine: a grizzled veteran grinder. Judo is his base. Luan Chagas provides an interesting foil and a virtual brick wall against the underdog. This is the same guy who fought the well-regarded Sergio Moraes to a draw. The Brazilian has six knockout wins, eight submission wins and two submission losses. His only decision was that draw. Wallhead won't set a new precedent.

    Prediction: Chagas, submission, Round 3.

         

    Strawweight

    Viviane Pereira (12-0) vs. Jamie Moyle (4-1)

    Another fight that pits an aggressive hometown favorite against an out-of-town grinder. Viviane Pereira is the little engine that could. The 5'0" dynamo extended her unbeaten record in her UFC debut with a split-decision win over Valerie Letourneau. Moyle took her debut too, though, and seems to have more of a proclivity than Pereira to get inside and dirty it up. Pereira wants to exchange early and often, although she can get work done in the clinch. Her killer instinct gives her the slightest of edges.

    Prediction: Pereira, unanimous decision.

The Fox Sports 1 Prelims

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    Raphael Assuncao
    Raphael AssuncaoRon Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

    Bantamweight

    Iuri Alcantara (34-7) vs. Brian Kelleher (16-7)

    Iuri Alcantara tends to lapse in the heat of the moment. That won't happen this time. He's an unbelievable jiu-jitsu grappler. He can strike too, but Brian Kelleher's wheelhouse is wrestling. That plays right into the hands of the underrated Brazilian.

    Prediction: Alcantara, submission, Round 2.

         

    Bantamweight

    Johnny Eduardo (28-10) vs. Matthew Lopez (9-1)

    Johnny Eduardo has outstanding boxing. As in, maybe some of the best boxing in the division. He doesn't have knockout power, but he is still some kind of fun to watch.

    Matthew Lopez's presence here is a product of the Dana White: Lookin' For a Fight series on UFC Fight Pass, but he's not totally green, having defeated Mitch Gagnon in his UFC debut. 

    Lopez likes to make things wild. He likes to get donnybrooks going on the feet and scrambles going on the ground. Eduardo is aggressive in his own right, but his is a controlled style. 

    So what takes it: order or chaos? Sound the mild-upset alarms for order and experience.

    Prediction: Eduardo, unanimous decision.

        

    Middleweight

    Antonio Carlos Junior (7-2) vs. Eric Spicely (10-1)

    What we have to do before we do anything else is give it up for Shoe Face, maybe the best nickname there is in this game. Antonio Carlos Junior is an outstanding grappler, and Eric Spicely is going to have his hands full. Spicely's a big middleweight with nasty submission skills, but his striking is not on the same level as that of Shoe Face, who should be able to get damage in and use combinations to set up takedowns. Once there, Shoe Face may be able to stifle Spicely's submission game with heavy top control.

    Prediction: Shoe Face, unanimous decision.

        

    Bantamweight

    Raphael Assuncao (24-5) vs. Marlon Moraes (18-4-1)

    If you don't know Marlon Moraes, enjoy this opportunity. His muay thai is murderous, and he uses it to chew his opponents up like a one-man pack of piranhas. He will kick you apart if you let him. 

    The problem for him is he's fighting Raphael Assuncao, who has been one of the best bantamweights in this division in UFC history. Assuncao has rock-solid defense, so Moraes has to know any entry is going to be handled.

    Assuncao also has a power edge, and he's going to find the angles that apply it best. Both these guys can grapple, and that may tell the tale. Assuncao is going to have a strength advantage. As marvelous as Moraes is, Assuncao will convert experience into a methodical game that will dampen the young man's debut.

    Prediction: Assuncao, unanimous decision.

Erick Silva vs. Yancy Medeiros

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    Yancy Medeiros (top) choked out Sean Spencer last September.
    Yancy Medeiros (top) choked out Sean Spencer last September.Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

    Welterweight

    Erick Silva (19-7) vs. Yancy Medeiros (13-4)

    He could've been a contender.

    That's what they'll be saying about Erick Silva whenever his career is over. Inconsistency has marked his long but directionless time in the UFC, and this is going to be another example of that. Silva still has great athleticism, great size and great grappling. Still, he's an emblematic 4-4 in his past eight contests, and three of those four losses came by knockout.

    That's not the kind of weak spot you want to have when you're facing Yancy Medeiros. Although he continues to evolve with the help of people like Cesar Gracie, at his heart Medeiros is a power striker. His right hook comes straight out of hell, and his ground and pound is almost as nasty.

       

    Betting Odds

    Yancy Medeiros -110, Silva -130

       

    Prediction

    I like Silva's all-around game, particularly his grappling, but these odds just don't feel right. Medeiros, TKO, Round 1.

Paulo Borrachinha vs. Oluwale Bamgbose

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    Oluwale Bamgbose
    Oluwale BamgboseJosh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Middleweight

    Paulo Borrachinha (9-0) vs. Oluwale Bamgbose (6-2)

    Who are these people again? Oh, wait! I'm supposed to know that.

    Just kidding—I definitely know who they are. I can spell their names and everything. Paulo Borrachinha may be familiar from his UFC debut in March, when he merked an imposing fighter in Garreth McLellan. It was business as usual for the hyperaggressive Borrachinha, who hasn't left the first round in his pro career.

    Oluwale Bamgbose has similar tendencies, making this an under-the-radar Fight of the Night candidate. The Bronx native has only left the first round once, win or lose. But he's more of a slugger, while Borrachinha is more polished. 

      

    Betting Odds

    Borrachinha (-215), Bamgbose (+165)

       

    Prediction

    Give me the guy with the better footwork and the better level of poise. Borrachinha, TKO, Round 2.

Vitor Belfort vs. Nate Marquardt

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    Vitor Belfort (right)
    Vitor Belfort (right)Buda Mendes/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Middleweight

    Vitor Belfort (25-13) vs. Nate Marquardt (35-17-2)

    Easy storyline here: This is Vitor Belfort's final fight, barring that dicey Legends League idea.

    He's had a pretty nutty career, in all the best and worst ways, and the champ is going to dance with the horse that brought him. That's being a berserker, basically. 

    Nate Marquardt is also pretty aggressive. But here's the kicker: They both have just as definite a tendency to take the knockout as to give it.

    This is shaping up to be an MMA gun fight of the highest order. 

        

    Betting Odds

    Nate Marquardt (+145), Vitor Belfort (-185)

       

    Prediction

    Want to feel old? Belfort is 40. He'll take everyone on a trip in the wayback machine Saturday. With the hometown wind at his back, Belfort, KO, Round 1.

Claudia Gadelha vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz

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    Claudia Gadelha
    Claudia GadelhaJosh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Strawweight

    Claudia Gadelha (14-2) vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz (10-1)

    A lot of people seem to want to root for Kowalkiewicz. She's a high-octane fighter and a marketable persona. Her stock in trade is easy to understand: The Pole is a muay thai striker. Despite her relative specialist status, she ripped off three straight wins in the UFC and before that dominated in places like Invicta and Poland's well-regarded KSW. Only the division champion, the great Joanna Jedrzejczyk, has been able to blemish her record.

    Gadelha will become the second.

    The Brazilian has outstanding strength for the division and is an absolute demon in the clinch. But she can also work in space and can piece opponents up with combinations. And on the ground, where she most certainly can get you, is Gadelha's world.

       

    Betting Odds

    Claudia Gadelha (-362), Karolina Kowalkiewicz (+278)

       

    Prediction

    After Belfort gets the crowd jumping, Gadelha takes it to the next level. She'll stifle her opponent in the clinch before hitting a trip takedown and taking it from there. Gadelha, submission, Round 2.

Jose Aldo vs. Max Holloway

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    Jose Aldo
    Jose AldoJoshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports

    Featherweight

    Jose Aldo (26-2) vs. Max Holloway (17-3)

    If you've ever enjoyed any iota of MMA, you will enjoy this fight. 

    Yes, Conor McGregor is a blemish on Aldo's record. Yet Aldo is still the GOAT of the featherweight division given his entire body of work. You know that, right? Deep in your heart of hearts? Good. I'm glad.

    Fightwise, Aldo's leg kicks have become so famous that it is trendy to downplay them in breakdowns. I will not follow that trend. Those kicks are among the most dangerous weapons in MMA. But in all seriousness, his game is defensively flawless, more or less, and his counter-striking game is awesomely efficient, even if it leads to extended dullness streaks.

    Ah, but Holloway is easily his worthiest foil on the map (except McGregor). His combos are gorgeous, and he mixes them up well. He moves forward, throws in bunches and finds the right angles for all of it.

        

    Betting Odds

    Holloway (+105), Aldo (-150) 

         

    Prediction

    I keep picking against Holloway, and I keep feeling silly about that. His volume striking may have me feeling that way again. But I'm going with the great Aldo. You know why? Yes: The leg kicks. Aldo, unanimous decision.

       

    All odds courtesy of OddsShark and accurate as of June 1.