Former featherweight champion Jose Aldo (28-6, 17 KOs, 1 SUB) will meet bantamweight slugger Petyr Yan (14-1, 6 KOs, 1 SUB) at UFC 251 on Saturday, July 11, 2020 at UFC Fight Island in Abu Dhabi, UAE. The matchup is a main card feature in an event headlined by a welterweight fight between Kamaru Usman and Gilbert Burns. The main card airs on pay-per-view starting 10pm ET and features five compelling matches. The prelims air on ESPN, ESPN+ and UFC Fight Pass, with eight fights.
Let’s take a closer look at the bantamweight title match between Yan and Aldo.
UFC 251: Usman vs. Masvidal
Jose Aldo (28-6, 17 KOs, 1 SUB)
It’s fair to question whether Aldo deserves the title shot. Because it sure as hell looks like the Brazilian is jumping the line based on his name and resume instead of recent accomplishments. He’s lost two straight, dropping a decision to Alexander Volkanovski and coming on the wrong side of a split decision in his bantamweight debut against Marlon Moraes. There are plenty of people who think that he beat Moraes, but it honestly could have gone either way. Point being, there are three or four legitimate contenders who probably should be inside the octagon instead of Aldo.
That’s not to say that Aldo is cooked. Even though it seems like he’s been around forever, Aldo is still just 33 years old. Slightly past his prime, but by no means is he physically shot. While he might be 2-4 in his past six, those losses came against elite fighters across two divisions. Nobody is going to fault him for losing to Holloway or Volkanovski. Two wins against Jeremy Stephens and Moicano - both knockouts - show that Aldo is still capable of fighting at a high level. The back and forth battle between Moraes dispelled any doubt that the cut to 135 might affect his ability to go hard from bell to bell (at least for three rounds).
Aldo is who he is: an explosive Muay Thai specialist who is damn near impossible to take down. What makes this matchup so exciting is that Yan is going to challenge him at his strength. The UFC odds at BookMaker.eu imply that this is going to be a major battle for Aldo, pegging him as a +183 underdog.
Petyr Yan (14-1, 6 KOs, 1 SUB)
There’s just something about hard Russian fighters that’s undeniably appealing. Maybe it’s the Drago stereotype, or the fact that anything they say in English sounds intimidating. Yan isn’t afraid to pop off, in person, on Twitter, or inside the octagon. Though he is still a relatively new face in the UFC, he has won all five of his fights inside the octagon (and nine straight overall) while making an unforgettable impression.
Don’t be fooled by Yan’s 50% finishing rate - this is one of the scariest fighters at 135 pounds. The Russian is relentless in stalking opponents, lighting them up with crisp, powerful combinations. He hits fast, hard and often, landing 5.65 significant strikes per minute. There aren’t many guys that can keep up with a dynamo athlete like John Dodson, but Yan continually cut him off and beat him to the punch. Jimmie Rivera, a naturally aggressive fighter, was forced onto his bicycle by Yan. One almost felt sorry for Urijah Faber, who was helpless against the Russian’s onslaught.
Yan opened as a -235 favorite at the online sportsbook, so oddsmakers obviously believe that he has the clear upper hand in this matchup.
Significant Striking Stats
Strikes landed per minute: Yan 5.65 / Aldo 3.47
Striking accuracy: Yan 46% / Aldo 44%
Strikes absorbed per minute: Yan 3.15 / Aldo 3.18
Striking defense: Yan 67% / Aldo 65%
Takedowns per 15 minutes: Yan 1.73 / Aldo 0.64
Takedown accuracy: Yan 53% / Aldo 65%
Takedown defense: Yan 87% / Aldo 91%
Submissions per 15 minutes: Yan 0.22 / Aldo 0.15
We lean strongly on the Russian - he’s younger, faster and stronger. Aldo is still performing at a high level, but he doesn’t have what it takes to overcome young studs anymore. Bottom line: Yan is ascending, while Aldo is declining. That trajectory is going to become clear as this fight moves into middle rounds. The price on the Russian isn’t ideal, but it’s still a solid play.
UFC 251: Usman vs. Masvidal Card & Odds
Jorge Masvidal +216 vs. Kamaru Usman -283
Max Holloway +194 vs. Alexander Volkanovski -250
Jose Aldo +179 vs. Petr Yan -230
Paige VanZant +555 vs. Amanda Ribas -925
Jessica Andrade +162 vs. Rose Namajunas -204
Jiri Prochazka +140 vs. Volkan Oezdemir -176
Zhalgas Zhumagulov +150 vs. Raulian Paiva -190
Vanessa Melo +186 vs. Karol Rosa -240
Danny Henry +150 vs. Makwan Amirkhani -190
Roman Bogatov +150 vs. Leonardo Santos -190
Elizeu Zaleski -105 vs. Muslim Salikhov -125
Davey Grant +143 vs. Martin Day -180
Maxim Grishin -106 vs. Marcin Tybura -124
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