One of the three title fights booked for UFC 251 on Fight Island is the UFC bantamweight championship bout between former champion Jose Aldo and #3 contender Petr Yan.
Fight Island has been revealed last week as Yas Island in Abu Dhabi and the UFC’s first event there will be UFC 251 on July 11, 2020. According to UFC President Dana White, three title bouts will headline the event with the UFC’s welterweight, featherweight, and bantamweight titles on the lin.
There is currently no UFC bantamweight champion after double-champ Henry Cejudo announced his retirement after defeating Dominick Cruz at UFC 249. With Cejudo removed from the rankings following his declaration, the title was declared vacant and top contenders Aldo and Yan have been designated to dispute the belt.
Aldo was supposed to be Cejudo’s challenger for the UFC 249 event in Brazil last May 9, 2020, but that event was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Cejudo went on to defend his belt against another former champion in Cruz with Triple C becoming the first fighter to stop Cruz. If Aldo wins here, he will join an elite rank of fighters who have won two UFC titles in different weight classes.
Yan was supposed to headline a UFC card in Kazakhstan on June 13th but that event was also called off due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Russian bantamweight is undefeated inside the UFC octagon and his last three wins have come against John Dodson, Jamie Rivera, and Urijah Faber.
Petr Yan is a former Absolute Championship Berkut bantamweight champion and Grand Prix winner who joined the UFC in 2018. This 27-year old Russian has fought six times inside the UFC octagon and has yet to drop a match under the promotion. He shot up the rankings with consecutive wins over John Dodson, Jimmie Rivera, and Urijah Faber.
Yan was calling out former champion Henry Cejudo but the latter chose Aldo, then Dominick Cruz. Now that Cejudo is out of the picture, Yan finally gets a shot to fight for UFC gold when he faces former featherweight king Aldo for the title that Cejudo left vacant after his retirement.
No Mercy stands 5-7 tall with a reach of 67 inches and is a switch-hitter. He has a record of 14-1 with six knockouts and one win via submission. Yan is on a nine-fight winning streak and he has not lost a bout since losing a split decision to Magomed Magomedov at ACB 32 in 2016.
Yan averages 5.5 significant strikes landed with a 46% accuracy. He gets hit by an average of 3.15 significant strikes per 15 minutes and has a striking defense of 67%. Yan is a decent takedown artist with an average of 1.73 takedowns per 15 minutes with an accuracy of 53% and he has a takedown defense of 87%.
Jose Aldo is the former UFC featherweight champion and the current #6 ranked bantamweight in the UFC. Aldo was the UFC’s inaugural featherweight champion who made a record seven successful title defenses before he was knocked out by Conor McGregor at UFC 194. The former WEC featherweight champion lost a controversial decision to Marlon Moraes in his bantamweight debut.
Aldo is one of the UFC’s most recognizable stars and he’s fought inside the octagon since 2011 and has headlined a total of seven pay per view events including UFC UFC 194 which sold a total of 1.4M PPV buys. Many doubted Aldo’s ability to move down to bantamweight but he proved his detractors wrong with a wonderful effort against Moraes.
Junior stands 5-7 tall with a reach of 70 inches while fighting out of the orthodox stance. He has a professional record of 28-6 with 17 knockouts and one win via submission. Aldo had won 18 consecutive fights when McGregor knocked him out in 13 seconds. His confidence has been shaken since that loss and Aldo has gone 3-4 after that defeat.
Aldo is an excellent striker who lands an average of 3.47 significant strikes per minute with a strike accuracy of 44%. He gets hit by an average of 3.18 significant strikes per minute with a striking defense of 65% Aldo doesn’t go for takedowns as he’s averaged just 0.64 takedowns per 15 minutes but has a terrific 91% takedown defense.
Yan is a perfect 6-0 inside the octagon with three knockouts and he has been the favorite in all his UFC bouts. He comes in as a -240 favorite and this is the longest odds he’s had in the UFC. In his first six UFC bouts, Yan closed at an average of -569 during his UFC career.
On the other hand, Aldo has been the betting favorite in 11 out of his 15 UFC bouts. He is 10-5 over that period. In his four losses, Aldo has been the underdog just once as he closed at +240 when he fought Max Holloway.
Yan is a very well-rounded fighter who has good grappling skills and has high-level boxing with knockout power. Six of his 14 wins have been by knockout and he has also recorded a takedown in each of his last four bouts. He is aggressive and moves forward to entice his opponents to engage.
Aldo is primarily a striker and one of the best on the feet in the lighter divisions. He has a total of 17 knockouts in 28 wins. Like Yan, Aldo is aggressive and likes to go first. Aldo loves to stalk his opponents and he doesn’t give them the room to breathe once he gets in his striking element. One of Aldo’s main weapons is his leg kick but surprisingly, he hasn’t used it in his last three bouts.
I think this fight will be fought on the fighter’s feet. Aldo has an incredible 91% takedown defense and he has not been taken down in his last four bouts. If Yan tries to take Junior down, he could end up getting caught in an unfamiliar position and get submitted.
Aldo looked good against Moraes and he should’ve gotten the win in that fight. Yan has looked spectacular but has not faced anyone in Aldo’s caliber. This should be a close fight and the lines should be closer than what they currently are. I see this fight as a striking battle with both fighters having their moments. However, I think that Yan is younger, fresher, and has better conditioning to fight five rounds.
Early Betting Prediction: Petr Yan
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