UFC 212 tips: Our best bets as Aldo and Holloway unify the belts in Brazil
We predict a clean sweep for the Brazilians as the Octagon returns to Rio de Janeiro...
Jose Aldo v Max Holloway
The featherweight division will have an undisputed champion after Saturday night as title holder Aldo takes on interim champion Holloway.
Aldo is known to most casual fans as the man who was knocked out by Conor McGregor in 13 seconds in 2015.
It’s easy to forget that, before that freak defeat, the Brazilian ruled the division with 15 consecutive wins in the UFC and WEC.
Holloway possesses the longest active streak of any featherweight, though, having beaten 10 opponents since his own loss to McGregor in 2013.
The Hawaiian is an exciting, unorthodox striker and has won seven of his last 10 fights by stoppage. He has the tools to trouble his experienced opponent here.
But Aldo is the Floyd Mayweather of the UFC. He is the best defensive fighter in the division and was almost unhittable in his last win over Frankie Edgar at UFC 200.
This fight will be close, and will largely be fought on the feet with neither fighter particularly interested in taking it to the mat.
Ultimately, Aldo’s slick boxing should give him the edge, and a razor-thin decision win for the home fighter looks the best bet.
Back Aldo to win on points at
Back Aldo to win a split decision at
Claudia Gadelha v Karolina Kowalkiewicz
This meeting of two fighters who have only ever lost to Joanna Jedrzejczyk will decide the top contender at strawweight.
Gadelha has proven herself as one of the best grapplers in the division, and dominated the champion for two rounds in their second fight last year.
She ran out of gas in that bout, though, and there are concerns over her stamina.
Kowalkiewicz also went five rounds with Jedrzejczyk, but failed to cause much damage at all and was beaten comfortably.
The Pole is a solid kickboxer, but her greatest strength is her chin. She was never close to being stopped against Jedrzejczyk.
It’s hard to see how she will be able to cope with a big, powerful strawweight like Gadelha, though, and the fact that this is only a three-round fight certainly helps the Brazilian.
It’s very likely that Gadelha will win the opening round, and if she can take the fight to the mat and conserve her stamina, she should have enough of a lead to see this through to the final bell.
Back Gadelha to win on points at
Back the fight to go the distance at
Vitor Belfort v Nate Marquardt
This could be Belfort’s last fight.
The Brazilian legend was once one of the greats of the sport, but has lost three of his last five fights, all by knockout.
That should really be four defeats in five, as his loss to Kelvin Gastelum was turned into a no contest after his opponent tested positive for marijuana.
In Marquardt, though, he has been handed an opponent who has also struggled in recent years.
The 38-year-old American has lost seven of his 10 fights dating back to 2013.
It would be a huge shock if this fight reached the second round.
Both Belfort and Marquardt have glass chins at this stage of their careers, and neither will be particularly keen on going deep into this bout.
Belfort is the more dangerous fighter, though, and would have knocked out Gastelum had the 25-year-old’s chin been as weak as Marquardt’s.
Back Belfort to win by knockout at
Back Belfort to win in the first round at
Paulo Henrique Costa v Oluwale Bamgbose
A clean sweep looks likely for the Brazilians in the top four fights on Saturday’s card.
Costa is a rising star in the middleweight division, and the 26-year-old is rightly the favourite in his second UFC fight.
He has stopped every one of his nine opponents to date, with eight knockouts and one submission, all in the first round.
This should be an exciting fight, given that Bamgbose has won six of his eight professional bouts, all by KO.
The Nigerian-American is a true mixed martial artist, with a black belt in Taekwondo and Jiu Jitsu and a black prajied in Muay Thai.
He will swing away with Costa, but his striking is often untidy and can be exposed by a more technical fighter.
‘Borrachinha’ is just that, and he should pick up another early stoppage win.
Back Costa to win by knockout at
Back Costa to win in the first round at