The Great Debate: Jose Aldo Jr vs Max Holloway

The Great Debate is back, and this time we are debating the main event of UFC 212, Jose Aldo Jr vs Max Holloway. Justin Peck is our current champion. He was supposed to face Stars Prophet, who is on of the top MMA handicappers in the world. They were gonna face offf at our special Great Debate series for UFC 211, where meembers of the MMA Takeover staff took on members of the MMA media world (which we went 4-0). The two were scheduled to debate the matchup of Henry Cejudo vs Sergio Pettis, until Cejudo withdrew due to an injury. So they two writers are gonna debate Aldo vs Holloway. Stars Prophet will be arguing for Jose Aldo, while Justin Peck has Max Holloway.  

 

Why Jose Aldo will Win by Stars Prophet:

On June 3rd, Jose Aldo and Max Holloway will meet to unify the 145 title and provide the featherweight division with its first fighting champion since late 2015. Both men’s records speak for themselves. Holloway possesses a 10-fight win streak and an honorable mention spot in the pound for pound rankings, while Aldo has only lost once in the last 10 years and still sits at 5th pound for pound rankings after suffering his infamous fall at the hands of Conor McGregor.

 Aldo did not look like himself against McGregor. Although the fight lasted only seconds, the buildup stretched for nearly two years, during which Aldo appeared to lose a piece of himself. He had received unprecedented damage in the fights directly preceding that loss, and following the knockout, his future as a championship level fighter appeared in jeopardy. It is for these reasons that I picked Frankie Edgar to win the rematch. I was wrong. Within the Edgar rematch, the world found a renewed and repurposed Jose Aldo. During the first contest, Edgar found various degrees of success, while ultimately falling on the cards. In the rematch, an arguably better version of Edgar could not find repeated successes, and an ultimately more damaged and war-weary Edgar once again fell on the cards. Anyone who needs proof of the relevancy and validly of this victory needs only to look at Edgar’s most recent performances. Aldo continues to display his ability to control empty space utilizing effective feinting, distancing, timing, and angling. Aldo will employ his mastery of these tools to systematically break down Holloway’s methodologies and carry himself to a marquee championship victory.

Max Holloway holds the interim Featherweight strap, a belt he will seek to unify against Aldo in Rio de Janeiro. Holloway is on a 10-fight win streak, currently the longest in the division, and one of the longest in the division’s history. Within the streak are legitimate names such as Ricardo Lamas, Cub Swanson, Jeremy Stephens, Charles Olivera, and Anthony Pettis. Three of these victories were by way of finish, yet two of those three carry with them the stain of heavy asterisks. The TKO over Oliveira was due to a micro esophageal tear, which is highly difficult to reproduce, and the Pettis victory came on the back of a horribly botched weight-cut, a last minute promotion to 5-round status, and Pettis suffered a broken hand during the fight. The submission of Swanson was impressive, but was on the heels of Swanson’s destruction at the hands of Edgar and preceded an 18-month injury layoff. Holloway won clear-cut victories against Lamas and Stephens, but absorbed a nearly 50 leg kicks in 30 minutes, displaying a tendency to headhunt. These facts indicate Holloway’s record is not as dominate in truth as it may appear on paper. He also expresses a number of flawed patterns within his kickboxing arsenal, and I expect Aldo to take full advantages of these flaws en route to a solid decision victory.

Holloway’s primary defensive flaws are his tendency to eat leg kicks and an expressed refusal to move his head during exchanges. At range he plays a 1:1 game, while patiently looking for opportunities to explode with offense, generally when a foe has backed himself to the fence.Holloway is a much more potent offensive fighter when moving forward against a timid opponent. He struggles to truly outland skilled opposition in open space due to an over reliance on hand and foot speed, and his express lack of head movement. I expect Aldo to hold his ground and fight for position at the center of the cage. Aldo hasn’t expressed a tendency to fight from the back foot. Aldo prefers to keep his feet firmly planted and to counter-strike from inside the pocket. At space, I see Aldo punishing Holloway for attempting to close range without presenting a valid threat, and finding success landing both leg kicks and hooks during and while exiting exchanges. Holloway is a fantastic fighter in his own right, and I expect him to win up two rounds based on greater activity, but I would be surprised to see the Brazilian judges award him with more than one round. Jose Aldo by unanimous decision, 48-47.

 

Why Max Holloway Will Win By Justin Peck

First thing is first. Even if we took the Conor McGregor blemish off of Jose Aldo’s (#1) record, I would still be choosing Holloway (#2) for this fight. I am not low on Aldo, I am high on Holloway. With that said, let’s get into the breakdown.

Let’s get the obvious things out of the way. Conditioning will not be a factor for either fighter. At 5’11” Max Holloway presents a height difference that doesn’t come up often in this weight class. However, Aldo actually has a 1-inch reach advantage. That doesn’t mean that this won’t still be a factor. We’ve watched Aldo do damage to many opponents who come in with a flurry or combination by delivering a well-timed knee. He’ll have a hard time doing this to Holloway, whose additional height and excellent head movement keep him clean in many exchanges. He is also not one to drop his head when throwing a combination or stepping in to strike. The height will still be a factor.

Holloway will be able to find a home for his kicks as well. Frankie Edgar was able to land right leg kicks frequently in his bout against Aldo at UFC 200. In the later rounds, he got away from them, but they were still open for the taking. Look for Holloway to throw these often to open up opportunities to land punches and combinations.

The weakest area of Holloway’s striking, in my opinion, is his counter striking when an opponent storms him. For this fight, I don’t think that’s something he’ll have to worry about. Aldo is more of a counter striker himself. Holloway should be able to keep the pressure on Aldo throughout the fight, but he will need to remain cautious. Aldo is not an easy opponent to rattle and you can get caught if you try to force the issue. This is not a mistake we see from Holloway. He is very patient and throws good combinations. If Aldo has as much as a slip during the fight, Holloway will capitalize as he often does with an opponent who is off balance or against the cage.

I don’t believe this fight will make its way to the ground. It’s not Aldo’s style and Holloway has great takedown defense and decent grappling. However, if it does, Holloway is always a threat to throw a guillotine attempt.

The young and energetic Max Holloway will put on a show in front of Jose Aldo’s home crowd. He will keep Aldo’s hands full for five full rounds and make adjustments as the fight continues to keep up his offense and remain up on the score card. He will keep Aldo at the end of his punches and prove to be a hard target to hit.

Prediction: Max Holloway by Decision

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