In individual sports like tennis and golf, there’s no question who the best player is – that would be whomever is ranked No. 1 in the world. In boxing and mixed martial arts it’s not always that simple. There can be an official champion in a weight division but also an interim one.
That’s the case for the main event of UFC 212 on Saturday night from Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro as Jose Aldo and Max Holloway square off for the undisputed featherweight title. Aldo is a -150 betting favorite at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com, with Holloway at +120 on the UFC 212 odds.
The over/under is set at 4.5 rounds for the scheduled five-rounder, with the OVER favored.
The 30-year-old Aldo (26-2) is from Brazil and is the most accomplished featherweight in UFC history thus far – it’s a fairly new division. Aldo’s first career loss was in 2005. He then won 18 straight in the Octagon, including seven in a row in the UFC, before running into a Conor McGregor punch just 13 seconds into their December 2015 title fight at UFC 194.
That victory launched McGregor into superstardom and left Aldo, who was a betting underdog for the first time since 2008, claiming it was a fluke punch. “Scarface” has been trying to get a rematch since, once threatening to retire if not, but McGregor moved on to bigger and better things, winning the UFC lightweight title and now trying to fight Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a boxing ring.
Aldo has fought once since that loss, beating ex-lightweight king Frankie Edgar by unanimous decision last July for the interim featherweight title. McGregor was then stripped late last year of that belt when he won the lightweight title, and Aldo was crowned the official champion.
Aldo has made some noise about possibly moving up to lightweight (155 pounds) himself or even trying boxing.
This is the sixth time a UFC card has been held at Jeunesse Arena, formerly called HSBC Arena, in Rio. A Brazilian has headlined the card the previous five times. The men are 4-0, with Aldo 2-0. The one loss was by Bethe Correia to former women’s champion Ronda Rousey.
While Aldo could be the greatest featherweight ever, the longest UFC winning streak in the division’s history belongs to Holloway (17-3) at 10 in a row. The 25-year-old Hawaiian claimed the division’s interim belt with a third-round TKO victory over Anthony Pettis, another former lightweight champion, at UFC 206 in December. Holloway’s last loss? To a then relatively-unknown McGregor by unanimous decision in August 2013.
“Blessed” has a four-inch height advantage here but loses an inch of reach to Aldo. Both Aldo and Holloway are excellent strikers. This bout is unlikely to be decided on the ground as only three fights for either of them have ended in submission.