Max Holloway v Jose Aldo
A second successive win over Aldo on Saturday night would cement Holloway’s place as one of the greatest UFC featherweights ever.
The Hawaiian caused a huge upset by stopping Aldo in the third round when they met in June, and he’s now won 11 consecutive fights to rack up the longest active streak in the division.
Aldo started strongly at UFC 212 but seemed to fade against Holloway’s constant pressure, and the Brazilian looked one-dimensional as he plodded forward looking only to box.
He will probably attempt more takedowns in this rematch to try and nullify Holloway’s height advantage, but the champion’s excellent guillotine makes it trying to take him to the mat a dangerous tactic.
It’s fair to expect an improvement from Aldo given that he’s always performed well in previous rematches, but he struggled to hurt Holloway in the first fight and it’s hard to see how that will change on Saturday.
A knockout win for Holloway is the right bet, as Aldo’s chin appears to be shot from two stoppage defeats in his last three fights, with the last bout proving that he can’t last five rounds at the champion’s pace.
Francis Ngannou v Alistair Overeem
Expect Ngannou – the UFC’s top heavyweight prospect – to move into the title picture by knocking out Overeem on Saturday night.
The 31-year-old has won nine successive fights – six of them by knockout – and has picked up Performance of the Night bonuses in each of his last two.
Overeem, meanwhile, was fortunate to win his last fight after being given a majority decision despite Fabricio Werdum appearing to have edged two of the three rounds.
He was caught with a big knee in the final round and managed to survive until the end, but won’t be so lucky if he makes a mistake and takes a similar shot from Ngannou.
The Frenchman is the biggest puncher in the division, and should close this fight out early to set up a title bout against Stipe Miocic.
Henry Cejudo v Sergio Pettis
Cejudo is the UFC’s second-ranked flyweight, and should get a second shot at flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson by winning on Saturday night.
The American has lost two of his last three fights, though one of those was a split decision against Joseph Benavidez that he probably would have won had he not been docked a point for repeated low blows.
Cejudo was great in his last fight – a second-round KO of Wilson Reis – and he should follow that up by controlling the action on the feet against the still-improving Pettis.
The 24-year-old is an excellent grappler who will look for takedowns, but he lacks the technical striking of Cejudo and will struggle to maintain distance over such a good pressure fighter.
Six of Cejudo’s last seven wins have come by decision, and the same result should be expected this weekend.
Eddie Alvarez v Justin Gaethje
This is guaranteed to be a great fight, as former champion Alvarez takes on perhaps the most exciting fighter in the lightweight division.
Gaethje was tipped as a potential star before he joined the UFC, and he looked just that on his Octagon debut after knocked out Michael Johnson in the second round.
The undefeated 29-year-old has all the tools to win the title in the very near future. He was an All-American wrestler in college, and has proved he’s a devastating striker with 15 knockouts in 18 professional fights.
Alvarez is one of the few fighters in the division who enjoys a brawl as much as Gaethje, so he’ll go toe-to-toe this weekend, just as he did in his last fight against Dustin Poirier in May.
The 34-year-old was losing that bout before he landed an illegal knee that saw it ruled a no contest, and it’s hard to see him lasting three rounds against Gaethje if he engages in a war.
Unfortunately for Alvarez, he can’t seem to stop himself from brawling, so a stoppage win for his opponent is the likeliest outcome.