On December 12, Josh Aldo and Conor McGregor will meet in a Featherweight Championship unification bout to highlight UFC 194 in Las Vegas. Two good middleweight fights are also on the card: Chris Weidman will defend the title against Luke Rockhold, while Ronaldo Souza and Yoel Romero will battle for a potential title shot.
Let’s set the stage!
Aldo vs. McGregor
In 2010, Aldo beat Manvel Gamburyan to defend his WEC Featherweight Championship. He was promoted to UFC title holder at the same time. Since then, “Junior” has won seven straight fights including a unanimous decision victory over Chad Mendes in October 2014, which was also Fight of the Year. He has been off since that victory in Rio and stands at 25-1 in his career. His only loss was way back in 2005 against Luciano Azevedo.
Aldo has 14 wins by knockout, nine via decision, and two by submission. Three of his last four fights have gone the distance. He earned a decision over Ricardo Lamas in February 2014, and scored a TKO in the fourth round against Chan Sung Jung in August 2013.
McGregor is 18-2 and has won four straight fights via TKO. This year, he has second-round wins over Chad Mendes and Dennis Siver. Last year, he beat Dustin Poirier and Diego Brandao in the first round. He last lost in 2010 against Joseph Duffy (via armbar). The heavy-handed Irishman has 16 wins by knockout and claimed the interim Featherweight Title with his destruction of Mendes. McGregor is a 2/3 favorite, which is surprising given that Aldo hasn’t lost in a decade. If he isn’t suffering from ring rust, there’s value on Aldo
Weidman vs. Rockhold
Weidman and Rockhold are both 31 years old. Weidman is 13-0 and has held the Middleweight crown since beating Anderson Silva in 2013. He has defended the title successfully against Silva, Lyoto Machida, and most recently Vitor Belfort (via TKO back in May).
Rockhold is 14-2 with nine wins by submission. Since losing to Belfort in 2013, he has added a TKO victory over Costas Philippou, and submissions of Tim Boetsch, Michael Bisping, and Machida to his resume. Rockhold is a tempting 7/5 underdog and the under (1.5 rounds) at 3/2 is very intriguing.
Souza vs. Romero
A battle of elder statesmen sees the 35-year-old Souza battling 38-year-old Romero. The winner has a great claim to a title chance while the loser is probably nearing retirement. Souza has won eight straight battles and is 23-3 all time. He forced Chris Camozzi into a submission using an armbar in his last fight (April 2015), his 16th win via submission.
Romero, who went 34-11 as a wrestler, is 10-1 in MMA. He knocked out Machida in June and TKOed Tim Kennedy in 2014. His only loss came in 2011 against Rafael Cavalcante. Souza is a 10/17 favorite and that feels too large. Getting 3/2 odds, Romero is the play.
(Photo credit: Andrius Petrucenia (UFC 189 World Tour Aldo vs. McGregor London 2015) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)