The Ultimate Fighting Championship returns to Brazil for a featherweight title unification bout between Jose Aldo and Max Holloway.
The UFC are billing the bout as ‘Champion vs. Champion’, but neither man could claim to be the true featherweight champion.
Aldo was named undisputed featherweight champion following Conor McGregor’s move to lightweight despite being knocked out in just 13 seconds by the Irishman.
Holloway also has a loss on his record to the ‘Notorious One’, he lost three rounds to McGregor despite his opponent blowing out his ACL.
Anderson Silva was booked to feature in his home nation but couldn’t an opponent after Kelvin Gastelum was pulled for failing a drug test; testing positive for marijuana.
We preview the UFC 212 main card below.
MAIN EVENT – UFC FEATHERWEIGHT TITLE
145lbs – Jose Aldo (C) (26-2) vs. Max ‘Blessed Holloway (IC) (17-3)
Aldo fights for the first time since UFC 200 when he beat Frankie Edgar to become the interim featherweight champion. The Brazilian was promoted to undisputed champ following McGregor’s endeavours in other weight divisions.
Holloway currently holds the interim belt after Daniel Cormier pulled out of his title bout with Anthony Johnson at UFC 206 meaning Holloway’s bout with Anthony Pettis was promoted to a title fight. Despite Pettis missing weight, Holloway won the fight via knockout.
‘Blessed’ is currently riding a ten-fight win streak including wins over Ricardo Lamas, Cub Swanson and Jeremy Stephens. His last loss came at the hands of McGregor.
Although McGregor could claim to still be the undisputed featherweight king, this fight should still be a classic.
Aldo is one of the best 145-pound fighters that has ever lived and has a point to prove after threatening to retire from the sport of MMA to play football.
Holloway has a tricky style which Aldo will have to counter; his slick boxing could cause the Brazilian problems. He is improving with every fight he has but faces the toughest test of his career against Aldo.
According to Sports Betting Dime, Aldo is the slight favourite have his hand raised at UFC 212. Though Holloway has been impressive, I’m backing the Brazilian to come out on top and potentially look for a move to lightweight to chase down the only man to defeat him in the last 11 years.
PREDICTION: Aldo via decision
115lbs – Claudia ‘Claudinha’ Gadelha (14-2) vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz (10-1)
The co-main event is an incredibly exciting fight in the strawweight division between two top contenders in Claudia Gadelha and Karolina Kowalkiewicz.
Both fighters have only been beaten by one woman in their professional careers – the reigning strawweight champion, Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
Kowalkiewicz fights for the first time since losing a unanimous decision to Jedrzejczyk at UFC 205 while Gadelha enters the octagon after a decision win over Cortney Casey.
The Polish fighter inflicted heavy damage on the champion, having her hurt on multiple occasions but ultimately fell short in her quest for UFC gold.
Gadelha is currently 0-2 against the champ and hopes a win over Kowalkiewicz would set up a rare trilogy fight.
The Brazilian is an outstanding wrestler and is strong in the clinch. She usually performs best in the early rounds meaning Kowalkiewicz will have to weather an early storm.
KK will have the advantage on the feet and has the cardio to go five rounds with her opponent.
It’s hard to see either fighter getting a title shot given their record against the reigning champion. Gadelha has already been beaten twice while Rose Namajunas could feel she is worthy of a shot at Joanna.
With the bout being just three rounds, Gadelha has to be considered the favourite. Her grappling should prove too much for the Pole to gain victory over the scorecards.
PREDICTION: Gadelha via decision
REST OF MAIN CARD
185lbs – Vitor ‘The Phenom’ Belfort (25-13 (1)) vs. Nate ‘The Great’ Marquardt (35-17-2)
UFC 212 will be Vitor Belfort’s last event with the Brazilian announcing that his bout against Nate Marquardt will be his retirement fight.
Belfort was once considered one of the most terrifying fighters the UFC has ever witnessed, but his career has been dogged by criticism for his abuse of testosterone. Following new regulations, Belfort went from hero to zero and is currently riding back-to-back knockout losses.
Given it will be his last time entering the octagon, the UFC booked him to fight Marquardt, another MMA journeyman. At 38-years-old, ‘The Great’ has picked up wins and losses in his most recent fights although he has established himself as a solid middleweight contender.
This fight could go either way with both men coming to the end of their professional careers. Given Belfort has the home advantage, I’m backing ‘The Phenom’ to end his career on a high with another knockout win.
PREDICTION: Belfort via knockout
185lbs – Paulo Borrachinha (9-0) vs. Oluwale ‘Holy War Angel’ Bamgbose (6-2)
Next up on the card is a middleweight bout between two Paulo Borrachinha and Oluwale Bamgbose.
Two real sluggers will meet face-to-face in what should be a stand-up war.
Borrachinha has an undefeated professional record and made his UFC debut back in March when he knocked out Garreth McLellan in just one minute and 17 seconds. Eight of his nine wins have come via knockout.
He will face another power puncher in Bamgbose who fights for the first time since losing to Cezar Ferreira in April 2016.
Borrachinha will have the home advantage and gets the nod to keep his impressive run going via knockout.
PREDICTION: Borrachinha via knockout
170lbs – Erick Silva (19-7) vs. Yancy Medeiros (13-4)
A welterweight bout between Erick Silva and Yancy Medeiros will open the card in Brazil.
Silva was on a two fight loss streak after falling short against Neil Magny and Nordine Taleb before gaining a submission victory against Luan Chagas at UFC Fight Night 95 – a performance which saw him earn a ‘Fight of the Night’ bonus.
He was initially touted as a contender in the 170lb division but has a 7-6 record in the UFC – struggling to put a win streak together longer than two.
Silva will face Medeiros, who has a 4-4 record in the UFC. The American got over his loss to Francisco Trinaldo by submitting Sean Spencer via rear-naked choke at UFC 203 which saw him scoop a ‘Performance of the Night’ bonus.
He has won four of his last six fights and gets my backing to submit Silva and start his rise up the welterweight division.
PREDICTION: Medeiros via submission
Where will you be watching UFC 212? Let us know in the comments below!