The Ultimate Fighting Championship is heading back to the beaches of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on June 3rd and they’re bringing a whole slew of Brazilian fighters with them to entertain the masses at UFC 212.
Although the card features a few names, some harder to say than others, it won’t include one name many were hoping for: Anderson Silva.
The former champ was scheduled to fight Kelvin Gastelum in a middleweight showdown, but thanks to the USADA’s drug testing, that matchup went up in smoke.
For awhile, Silva was fighting the notorious and unbeatable TBA, but a lack of an opponent forced the legend off the card. That prompted some strong words directed at UFC President Dana White. Things were said, retirement has been contemplated, and it appears Silva will be on the sidelines for the foreseeable future.
Drama aside, the card still features a main event that will unify the UFC’s featherweight title. Manaus native Jose Aldo will defend his belt against Max Holloway, who holds the interim title. Both guys love to stand and bang, so you can expect a fight full of fireworks.
Also on the card is a match between Cláudia Gadelha and Karolina Kowalkiewicz. They’ll throw down in the women’s strawweight division with the winner hoping to get a title shot.
While Silva’s absence is a big loss for Brazilians, countryman Vitor Belfort has agreed to fight Nate Marquardt in a middleweight showdown that should please the fans. Befort has stated this will be the final fight of his career and so he’ll be looking to retire on a high note.
Overall, it’s a pretty solid card, but nothing compared to what we got at a stacked UFC 211.
Here’s a look at who should have their hands raised when it’s all said and done.
UFC 212 Odds and Predictions
Jose Aldo (c) (-145) vs. Max Holloway (ic) (+115)
I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since Jose Aldo (26-2) was in a UFC Octagon. The last time the Brazilian was in the cage was at UFC 200 when he beat Frankie Edgar for the UFC featherweight title.
Now, he looks to unify his featherweight title with Max Holloway’s (17-3) interim title. This has a very competitive line; it’s essentially an even fight with the “too close to call” tag attached to it. But here are some things for bettors to keep in mind.
These fighters are stylistic twins; they both stay very active and throw a lot of punches, and they both have cardio for days.
The 25-year-old Holloway is on a red-hot ten-fight win streak, and his kills include big names like Anthony Pettis, Ricardo Lamas, Jeremy Stephens, and Cub Swanson. One of the things to keep an eye on is how much Holloway pushes the pace. He’ll have to work his strikes from many different angles and keep Aldo guessing. Although “Blessed” Holloway doesn’t really go for takedowns, he is one of the best at defending them. Against Aldo, his defense will have to focus more on avoiding leg kicks that could slow him down as the fight progresses.
Holloway’s biggest advantage will be his limbs. He is slightly taller with a better reach, and keeping Aldo from getting in close could tip the scales in his favor. His ability to take punishment — and keep coming forward — will also be huge, since you can count on Aldo land his share.
Aldo is one of the most technical strikers we have ever seen in the Octagon. He has a fluid counter-punching style, picking his spots with his excellent jab and vicious leg kicks. Oh, and he has a BJJ black belt too.
Like Holloway, the Brazilian has impeccable timing, but I feel he has more explosive KO power in his punches, despite his small stature.
This fight probably won’t go to the canvas and should be a standup affair. Both combatants have iron jaws and love to set up combo punches. I can see it going back and forth over the full five rounds and being left for the judges to decide.
Aldo has the experience and the extra tools to eke this one out. Could his legendary leg kicks be the biggest factor? The closer the fight, the better it is for the champ and his technical style.
With the home crowd behind him, I’m rolling with Aldo in a very close fight.
Pick: Jose Aldo (-145)
Claudia Gadelha (-300) vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz (+230)
One thing Gadelha (14-2) and Kowalkiezicz (10-1) have in common is that they have both lost to UFC strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk and nobody else. But a loss will be added to one of those records, as they’re now set to face each other.
The odds on this bout will probably move closer as the money starts to trickle in. Kowalkiewicz at +230 might be something worth jumping on because I see this fight as a bit more competitive than what the current odds suggest.
Both ladies like to come out aggressive and finish things early. However, neither of them have ever been stopped and so you can expect this fight to go into the later rounds. Deep Water is where both these women seem to be comfortable working in as the majority of their fights have gone the distance.
I feel it will be Gadelha’s ground game that might be the deciding factor in this bout. Kowalkiewicz needs to keep this fight standing or she could be in for a long night.
If both women want another crack at the title they will need to not just win this battle, but win with style to prove they deserve another look.
Although it’s tempting to take the underdog here, I feel Gadelha has more in the tool box to squeak out the win.
Pick: Claudia Gadelha (-300)
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