UFC 251: Petr Yan vs Jose Aldo Preview
By Jack Maher
The first of three title fights on the UFC 251 card, the clash for the vacant UFC bantamweight championship will see the new phenom at bantamweight take on a featherweight legend.
Petr Yan goes in to this fight with a 6-0 record in the UFC, coming off of a stoppage win over UFC Hall of Famer Urijah Faber, he will look to add a future Hall of Famer in Jose Aldo to his resume in his first attempt at UFC gold.
Against Faber, Yan repeatedly utilised the clinch en route to a third round knockout over ‘The California Kid’ and while his ability in the clinch remains one of his biggest strengths, it is unlikely he will be able to show such dominance in that area against an opponent as skilled on the feet as Jose Aldo.
An advantage Yan does hold over Aldo however, is that the Brazilians gas tank is historically not the best. Aldo isn’t unfit so to say, but it will come as a surprise to few if he seems to fade in the later rounds.
This plays in to one of Yan’s main strengths, as the high intensity Yan wears his ‘No Mercy’ moniker like a badge of honour, going in to every fight with the intention of putting the offence on his opponent from start to finish.
If Aldo doesn’t put Yan away, then things could turn seriously sour for the former featherweight champion in the later rounds.
As for Aldo, he may find a path to victory by exploiting a potential hole in the Russians defence. Yan fought his last fight with a tall Muay Thai stance, with his arms high in the air and his elbows raised to his chest. This could potentially offer Aldo an opening to utilise his kicking game, specifically to Yan’s potentially exposed body.
If Aldo can do some serious damage to Yan’s midsection, it would go a long way to gaining his respect on the feet and make him think twice before he launches his own attacks.
As Daniel Cormier accurately pointed out while commentating Yan’s last fight, Yan is “willing to take one to give one” in stand-up exchanges due to his power as well as his own durability. Against Faber, Yan knew his opponent was far less dangerous than himself, which granted him the freedom to go forward and fight as aggressively as he did.
There will be openings for Aldo to land his own offence, such is the nature of Yan’s fighting style, if he can counter-strike to near perfection, and still carries the same power at 135lbs that seen him record 17 KO/TKO’s at featherweight, then Aldo has every chance of winning this fight.
He will however have to be very conscious of what is coming back at him if he wants to avoid getting clipped by his heavy handed foe and have his goal of becoming a world champion in a second weight class shattered.