This Saturday the UFC is back home at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas for UFC 156: Aldo Vs. Edgar. Featherweight champ Jose Aldo defends his belt in a five round “super fight” against former lightweight champ, Frankie Edgar. Many view this as a new kind of test for Aldo, especially coming off of a year-long absence since his last title defense against Chad Mendes. The name of the game for Frankie is speed and timing, in both his strikes and takedowns. As he’s improved throughout his career, his standup has gotten crisper and more diverse. Jose Aldo, as most of you know, is a destroyer. Widely considered one of the top three pound-for-pound fighters in the world. He has not lost since 2005 and no one has been able to best him throughout his WEC and UFC career. With all of this in mind lets break these two down.
The key to Frankie’s standup attack is his lateral movement, footwork, and head movement. His constant circling make him a much harder target to hit. He flashes his jab continuously while he moves, creating misdirection, before stepping in a with his weight behind his punches. Edgar is a volume puncher, and uses his speed to land 3-4 punch combinations, attacking both the body and the head. He uses his footwork to then get out of range on counter attacks. He’s gotten very good at frustrating opponents, cause them to drive forward, leaving them open for Frankie to change levels and secure a takedown. However, the reason why we do not see Frankie’s level of movement in higher level kickboxing and Muay Thai competition is because it is detrimental against opponents who have strong kicks (particularly leg kicks). By constantly switching stances and circling, you are rarely balanced to absorb or check a leg kick.
Thus we come to Jose Aldo, who has arguably the most brutal leg kicks in the game. Benson Henderson showed that you can nullify Frankie’s movement through the use of kicks. Frankie’s opponents have also used his movement to corral him into their punches, as evidenced in his two fights with Gray Maynard. I believe this will be “Junior’s” game plan. He throws his leg kicks with power and I see him using these to keep Edger at bay, or move him in the direction Aldo wants him to move. Look for the Brazilian to use his explosiveness to capitalize on openings. I don’t see Aldo throwing as many knees because of Edgar’s wrestling, but instead to use his handspeed and leg kicks to outmaneuver Frankie up on his feet. I see Frankie at a disadvantage here.
Grappling is where Frankie will likely have the edge. He mixes up his striking and takedowns expertly and explodes through his shots. I think he has the skill in his hands to draw Jose into a striking match before changing levels for a shot. Aldo has fantastic takedown defense, but so did BJ Penn, and Edgar was able to get him to the matt multiple times. Aldo has not looked that stunning off of his back, and Edgar has a brown belt under Ricardo Almeida. I don’t see either fighter going for that many submissions, but if Edgar gets the fight to the ground, look for him to utilize his ground and pound to rough up Aldo.
Aldo has been saying that Edgar’s first cut to 145 lb will negatively affect him, effecting his speed and stamina. Frankie has been wrestling through out high school and college, so I doubt he will have a problem with the cut. It should be noted that Frankie walks around lighter than most featherweights, certainly cutting less than Aldo. Aldo’s gas tank has been of some suspect, as he has looked less impressive and explosive in his fights that went longer than three rounds. I see Frankie trying to clinch up with Aldo early and make the fight dirty. We all know that Frankie is really hard to put away, but I don’t think he’s been hit by someone quite like Jose Aldo. The former lightweight chamo has a ton of heart, so his drive and motivation really shouldn’t come into question. I became a fan of Edgar after his fight’s with BJ in which I thought he had no shot–not to mention that I’m from New Jersey myself. However, I really don’t see him bringing anything into this fight that Aldo isn’t going to be ready for.
Prediction: Jose Aldo via 3rd Round TKO