UFC 212

Aldo x Holloway

Picks, Parlay, and Predictions

It’s only a state of mind.

PICKS

Holloway x Aldo
Gadelha x Kowalkiewicz
Belfort x Marquardt
Borrachinha x Bamgbose
Medeiros x Silva
Assuncao x Moraes
Junior x Spicely
Eduardo x Lopez
Alcantara x Kelleher

PARLAY

”LOCK IN RIO” EDITION

Holloway (+110)
Kowalkiewicz (+250)
Belfort (-149)
Medeiros (-115)
$2.12 to win $46.34

PREDICTIONS

Where hearts were entertaining June

Jose Aldo x Max Holloway for the undisputed Featherweight Championship

It’s ridiculous that three men could say they have the featherweight title. Conor McGregor debuted at 145 pounds in the UFC and became champion after knocking out Aldo, the long reigning king, in 13 seconds. Less than a year later, Conor was stripped of the belt for “inactivity” and they gave it back to Aldo to add hype after his UFC 200 fight. One month after deciding Aldo was the champ, the UFC had Holloway fight for an interim belt, which is really just a glorified number one contender spot. Confusing? In every way. Say what you want about McGregor since he’ll probably never make it back down to the weight class, but, in my mind, neither Aldo nor Holloway are rightful champions yet. This fight will determine that.

Of course the fight will take place in Brazil to stack the deck in Aldo’s favor. The UFC likes him and, to be fair, the McGregor loss is the one blemish on his record in the last 11 years. That's a lot of ass kicking. Jose was the division’s first champ and he had an impossible grip on the belt until that Irish firecracker blasted him in the side of the head mere seconds into the first round. It was a deep scratch on an otherwise untarnished legacy. Outside of that bout, Jose Aldo has been damn near perfect. His quiet, subdued demeanor outside of the cage is a stark contrast to the hyper-violent highlight reel he’s amassed. While his ground skills are nothing to scoff at, Jose Aldo is known for being a masterful Muay Thai striker. Kicks, knees, punches, elbows – the guy can do it all with perfect technique. Flawless. Every shot he throws is fluid and dangerous.

Max Holloway isn’t one to shy away from a brawl. He actually encourages them. While that might not always be the most strategic move, it’s worked pretty well for the brash, native Hawaiian. Holloway is on a ten fight win streak and has beaten up almost every notable featherweight in the division. Oddly enough, his last loss also came by the hands of Conor McGregor, but it was through a hard-fought decision in 2013. Holloway has looked like a killer ever since. His boxing is outstanding and he throws with tireless volume. Once he has you hurt, the strikes become overwhelming. Max is a whirlwind of offense, even off his back, and he's got more than enough mettle to take on a Brazillian legend in his own country. Holloway has a lot of heart and he's one of my favorite fighters to watch because of his enthusiasm and aggression.

This is an incredibly tough fight to call. Both men have excellent stand-up skills and both of them have shown the ability to endure a grueling five round fight. The raw power advantage goes to Aldo, but Holloway’s lanky build and avid footwork should keep him out of the pocket. You know, unless he decides to point at the ground and start swinging wildly...again. Jose’s murderous leg kicks will likely also come into play and I worry those might topple Max or slow him down, giving Aldo time to tee off. At the same time, Max is notorious for ripping shots to the body, which could spell trouble for Jose as the Brazilian usually starts to fade in later rounds. If Aldo’s energy gets zapped early, expect Holloway to take quick advantage of any and all opportunities. We’ve got quite a technical game of punchface set up for us. I’m favoring Holloway because he’s the younger, more motivated fighter. Rio is going to come out in force and that’s definitely going to pump up Jose, but I like an underdog. Do the damn thing!

Claudia Gadelha x Karolina Kowalkiewicz

This is a fantastic co-main event. It’s also a noteworthy test of the women’s strawweight division. Both Claudia and Karolina lost to the champion, the almighty Joanna Jędrzejczyk, within a month of each other last year. They also share losses to Joanna from earlier points in their career. Outside of this surreal statistic, Claudia and Karolina have remained unbeaten. They’re easily two of the best 115 pound contenders, even if the'll clearly have trouble dethroning the current champ, and I’m interested to see how competitive this match is. Both women look very even on paper. With completely opposite skillsets, of course.

Claudia is a Brazilian-born jiu-jitsu whiz who has recently taken her training to the United States to help round out the rest of her game. Karolina is a Polish striker who, despite her sweet disposition, loves to stand and trade shots. The women’s division is definitely evolving, but this can be considered a throwback to the ol’ striker vs grappler motif. It's not that these competitors are entirely one dimensional, but their strengths are clear. Claudia has probably fought better competition, but it’s not like Karolina has wilted at any point during her run.

If Gadelha tries to strike with Karolina, I expect her to come up short in almost every exchange. Instead, Claudia will want an opportunity to show off her BJJ black belt because we know Kowalkiewicz will want no part of it. However, the Polish Princess will obviously be expecting a grappling onslaught, so Claudia is going to have to work on masking her takedowns in order to take her opponent by surprise. Hopefully that well-rounded game is coming along nicely. If Karolina is able to stop the takedown, it’s going to be a long, bloody night for Gadelha.

My problem with pure strikers at strawweight is that it’s always going to be tough for them to finish with a knockout. Even Joanna has a hard time putting opponents away. These women are just not heavy enough to pack that kind of a punch, which creates a different dynamic. That sways me towards picking Claudia. If she can take Karolina down, there is always the possibility of a submission. No matter how heavy you are, if you can’t breathe, you can’t breathe. I doubt we see a finish in three rounds, but Gadelha will have an easier time ending the fight if she gets the chance. Karolina’s striking is second-to-one in the division, so if she’s able to let loose, things could get interesting. And gruesome. Credit to Brazil for not giving their hometown favorites any easy fights.