UFC 136 Fight Card: Kenny Florian vs. Jose Aldo, Early Head to Toe Breakdown
This will be Florian's third crack at UFC gold.
He fought Sean Sherk at UFC 64 and BJ Penn at UFC 101, both fights for the UFC Lightweight Championship. Florian lost both fights, earning himself a reputation for choking in important fights.
At UFC 136, Florian has the chance to shed his reputation as a choke artist and finally achieve his ultimate goal of capturing a UFC championship.
Aldo will be looking to defend his featherweight championship for the fourth consecutive time, while adding another big name to his already impressive resume.
This promises to be a very interesting fight, as both fighters are very talented and well rounded.
Which fighter's skills will carry them to victory?
Let's take a look...
In terms of experience, these two should be dead even.
They have 20 fights apiece, have both faced some of the best fighters in the world and both have been in high pressure fights in the UFC.
We won't see either fighter wilting under the pressure in this one. By now, both are used to being in big fights against world class competition.
Florian and Aldo are no strangers to preparing for five round fights.
Aldo is defending his belt for the fourth time, so he is used to going five rounds by now.
Florian's title fight with Sherk went all five rounds and his fight with Penn went deep into the fourth.
In theory, neither fighter should have trouble going five rounds, if it's required of them, but there are certain variables to consider.
Aldo's most recent bout was against Mark Hominick at UFC 129. Although he did dominate much of the fight, the featherweight champ tired noticeably in the fourth and fifth rounds. Some said that Aldo was battling the flu heading into his fight with Hominick, but there's no way of knowing if he really did gas due to illness, or just because he wasn't in good enough shape.
Florian has only fought once in the featherweight division and he had a difficult time making weight the first time round. The weight cut should be less trying this time, but there is definitely still a strong chance it could sap some of Florian's cardio.
Both fighters usually have solid cardiovascular endurance, but both have a variable that suggests their cardio might not be as good as we're used to seeing it.
This one is a no-brainer.
Aldo is one of the most explosive and dynamic strikers in the history of mixed martial arts. He has great technical striking, but is also unpredictable at times, and his technique sometimes wavers when going for a finish.
Florian is a solid striker in his own respect, but standing with Aldo would be ill-advised.
Based on what we've seen from both fighters, Aldo should have the speed, technique, and power advantage in the striking.
There is some good news for Florian; he will have a four inch reach advantage. Four inches is a fairly advantageous margin, especially in the featherweight division, but I doubt that will be enough to nullify all the things that Aldo will have working in his favor.
It's notable that both these competitors are known for having great kicks and both can attribute their kicking ability to playing soccer before entering MMA.
Edge: Jose Aldo
Florian has only been finished by strikes once in his career and it was a long time ago. Since that TKO loss to Diego Sanchez, he has faced heavy-handed strikers such as BJ Penn, Sam Stout, Gray Maynard, Roger Huerta, and Takanori Gomi.
None of those were able to stop Florian with strikes.
Aldo has never been knocked out and managed to shrug off some big punches when he fought Mark Hominick.
Both men can take a great punch.
These two actually have very similar grappling styles.
Both men's grappling base lies in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, but they have proven capable of getting a fight to the ground when they need to, despite not having backgrounds in wrestling.
Aldo showed strong wrestling and a good top game in his most recent bout with Mark Hominick, hitting takedowns at will and doing significant damage from the top position.
However, I believe it will be Florian who holds the advantage in grappling.
Florian has shown superior grappling against the likes of Clay Guida and Joe Stevenson, both of whom are strong wrestlers.
The advantage for Florian will also lie in his size advantage and the fact that he has fought in heavier weight classes and is used to handing tough grapplers who are much larger than Aldo.
Aldo might be too quick for Florian to even get a hold of him, but if these two tie up, Florian should have a slight advantage.
Aldo's submission skills are often talked about and he has been quite successful in jiu-jitsu tournaments, but we haven't seen him show much submission prowess in the cage. He has just two submission victories to his name and one of them came via soccer kicks —not exactly a Brazilian jiu-jitsu technique.
Florian, on the other hand, has ten victories via submission and has shown MMA fans on many occasions what a handful he can be on the ground.
Both fighters are strong on top, but aren't able to do too much off their backs, as evidenced by the fifth round of Aldo's fight with Hominick and Florian's losses to Gray Maynard, BJ Penn and Sean Sherk.
Aldo is a black belt in BJJ, but Florian is a second-degree black belt.
Given that Florian has a higher ranking than Aldo in BJJ and many more submission victories, I expect him to hold the advantage in this area.
Edge: Kenny Florian
The big difference in this fight is that Aldo has big advantages and Florian has slight advantages.
Florian probably has the advantage as far as grappling and submissions go, but Aldo is so much faster and has vastly superior striking; I don't see Florian getting a hold of him.
Look for Aldo to use his speed and striking to stay on the outside and wear Florian down with kicks, while also popping in and out of range landing punches.
Florian might have some success standing and could maybe catch a couple takedowns when Aldo goes for leg kicks, but I envision him having very little offensive success in this one.
Aldo will control the fight and Florian will be unable to fight his fight.
As long as the fight stays standing, which I believe it will, it's only a matter of time before Aldo puts Florian away and retains his featherweight belt.
Winner: Jose Aldo via Third Round TKO