Conor McGregor (sorry, it’s an MMA piece, he always squeezes in), along side the money hungry UFC brass did their best to ruin the Featherweight Division. They promoted the Notorious one’s striking skills and vibrant personality into a household name. They granted him an unwarranted title shot with wins over an unranked Max Holloway, unranked Diego Brandao, #5 Dustin Poirier, and #10 Dennis Siver. When Jose Aldo pulled out with a rib injury, he was replaced by #1 Chad Mendes on short notice. McGregor shook off a bad first round to finish the dangerous Mendes. At this point in my eyes Conor had done enough to earn his shot. McGregor then, to his credit, shocked the world in the manner that he disposed of 145 pound kingpin Jose Aldo. Jose was caught in a flurry with a perfectly timed counter setting up a catnap on the canvas. The UFC has since disrespected one of their most decorated champions by using his nightmarish evening as just another stepping stone for the cash crop that is Conor McGregor. The UFC followed the dollar signs, disrespected divisional rankings, and continued to give their Irish Superstar the golden ticket to any fight he wanted, even if Stockton’s finest made him say uncle on the way there. This is not about Conor though, this is about UFC 212 and the rebirth of the Featherweight Divisions credibility with Jose Aldo vs. Max Holloway.
A few days before the fight, Jose Aldo stands as a slight favorite (-125) over Max Holloway (-105). Well Las Vegas, thanks for the free money. It only took 13 seconds in December of 2015 for the world to forget about the killing machine that is Jose Aldo. For some reason, Cain Velasquez wasn’t brushed off so quickly after JDS finished him in 1:04 on national television but maybe that is because there was no Super Heavyweight Division for JDS to flee to. Jose Aldo is 30 years old (as far as we know) and has only been knocked out once due to a perfect strike. Nothing should lead us to believe we won’t see a vintage performance on Saturday night. I want to see McGregor vs. Aldo 2 because a piece of me believes Aldo is still the most talented fighter at 145 on the planet, a win Saturday is a step in the right direction. The fight game is unique in that emotions cause problems. Consistent disrespect from Conor McGregor gave us the wrong version of Jose Aldo that night. Let us not forget Aldo’s last performance in shutting down an always dangerous Frankie Edgar. That is no easy task, ask Yair Rodriguez.
Holloway is very young at 25 years old and yet to reach his prime, he will get there but not on Saturday. His win vs. Anthony Pettis was impressive but I am not sure what version of Showtime we were seeing that night. Maybe it was the weight cut, the hand injury in round 1, or losing 3 of his last 4, but that wasn’t the World Champion fighter we saw in the spotlight until 2014. The fighter we saw was tight, slow, and basic. These are words I never thought I would associate with Pettis. Although Holloway finished him and won the Interim Title, holes in his armor were easily visible to an elite fighter such as Aldo. Holloway had a flat, wide stance that will leave him susceptible to Jose’s devastating leg kicks. He constantly moves forward often taking large skip steps into combos, something that will allow Aldo to sit back and counter strike rather than charging in face first. Stylistically this fight is a nightmare for Holloway and the Featherweight Division’s credibility will soon be restored with a true champion in Jose Aldo.