- Date & Location: Saturday July 11 @ Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, UAE
- Odds: Petr Yan -235, Jose Aldo +185
- Prediction: Yan via decision
On July 11, the UFC will crown a new bantamweight champion. The division has been without a titleholder since Henry Cejudo abruptly retired after defending his crown in May. Cejudo scored a TKO win over Dominick Cruz in that bout.
Yan, who is currently the No. 3-ranked fighter in the official UFC bantamweight rankings, joined the promotion in 2018. He relinquished the ACB 135-pound title when he signed with the UFC. Since then, Yan has a 6-0 record.
Aldo held the UFC featherweight title from November 2010 until Conor McGregor knocked him out in 13 seconds in December 2015. Aldo’s record since that loss is 3-4. His first bantamweight outing took place in December. Aldo is the No. 6-ranked 135-pounder with the UFC.
UFC 251 is headlined by a welterweight title bout between Kamaru Usman and Gilbert Burns.
YAN VS ALDO ODDS
YAN VS ALDO PREDICTION & PICK
If you were to poll most pundits, they might tell you that Aldo does not deserve this title fight. He is 0-1 at bantamweight and there are more deserving fighters on the UFC roster. However, before he retired, Cejudo said he wanted to face Aldo and the UFC had all but booked that fight. And so Aldo, deserving or not, gets a title fight in a weight class where he does not have a win.
Aldo’s record in his past six outings is 2-4. Yes, he looked good in his wins, but both of those fights ended before the six-minute mark, so it’s hard to tell how Aldo will look at 135 if things go deep. He had trouble with weight cuts at 145, so there are some worries about cardio issues.
UFC commentator Joe Rogan said he believes Yan rises to the level of his competition right before Yan ran over former WEC champion Urijah Faber in December. Yan is fast, powerful, and has excellent technique.
Pick: Yan (-235)
BETTING VALUE WITH YAN
Yan has the patience, technique, and power to score a knockout over Aldo, especially as the fight gets closer to going the distance when Aldo’s output might fade and his defense might open. Of Yan’s six UFC wins, he has knockout victories in half of those outings.
Another reason to think Yan could score a knockout here is that all three of Aldo’s career knockout losses have come since 2015.
I think the fight will go the five-round distance, but my confidence in that result is not absolute as there is a chance Yan will add another knockout win to his record.
WHO HAS THE EDGE?
It’s hard to point at one thing that would make me believe Aldo walks away from this fight with the bantamweight title. Yan is younger, faster, and has fewer miles on his frame. He’s also comfortable fighting at 135, while Aldo has only fought at that weight once. Energy management will be a concern in a five-round contest.
Statistically, Yan lands more significant strikes per minute, is more accurate, absorbs fewer strikes, and has better defense than Aldo. Things even out a bit in the grappling department, but Yan’s takedown defense of 87 percent is fourth best all-time at bantamweight.
Yan is coming off a dominant win over Urijah Faber. He used a smart, but also aggressive game plan to defeat Faber. He shut down Faber’s offense by making him fight off his back foot and limited the former WEC champion to 18 landed significant strikes compared to Yan’s 54. Yan also did a fair job of mixing up his striking targets on his way to a third-round TKO win.
Aldo is coming off a split decision loss to Marlon Moraes. There was a lot of concern about Aldo’s weight entering that contest. The former 145-pound champion had some rough weight cuts in the past, but he looked good against Moraes. He had a fairly low success rate in his striking at 39 percent, so that’ll be something to watch against Yan. Another thing to monitor, as mentioned above, is Aldo’s cardio if that fight hits the championship rounds.
FIGHT STATS: YAN VS ALDO
|Petr Yan||Category||Jose Aldo|
|5.65||Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute||3.47|
|3.15||Significant Strikes Absorbed Per Minute||3.18|
|1.73||Takedown Average Per 15 Minutes||0.64|
|0.2||Submission Average Per 15 Minutes||0.1|
WHAT’S AT STAKE
The bantamweight division is a shark tank. A loss in this fight won’t be a career killer for Yan, the same cannot be said of Aldo.
Moraes, Aljamain Sterling, Cory Sandhagen, and Cody Garbrandt are all champing at the bit to get a title shot, so a loss at UFC 251 will probably put the vanquished fighter behind those competitors in the rankings. That could mean a lengthy road back to a title shot.
Yan has the time to work his way back. Aldo, who has been fighting since 2004, might not have the time nor inclination to fight his way back through the ranks, especially at 135 pounds.