José Aldo will look to continue his incredible run of form in the upper echelons of the featherweight ranks when he takes on Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 237.
In all honesty, this is one of the most underrated fights of 2019 so far.
On one hand, you have Aldo – the resurgent legend. A man seemingly on a warpath after losing his way in the three of the biggest fights of his life.
With two bouts left on his UFC contract and seemingly no intention of signing another one, he wants to go out with a bang and against all odds, he has put himself in prime position for a fairytale retirement later this year.
Alexander Volkanovski, who stands in his way, is one of the featherweight division’s most underappreciated forces – who at 6-0 in the UFC and 19-1 as a pro, has taken to the UFC with a level of brutal excellence that has seen many point to him as a major player in the future of the featherweight division.
Last time around, he recorded a career-best victory, beating down the former title-challenger Chad Mendes at UFC 232 in what was a fantastically gritty display.
To reach the potential that many hold for him, however, he’ll need to beat one of the greatest champions to have ever competed.
Stylistically, I think this fight is made for José Aldo.
Not to downplay the skillset of his opponent but on the back of his legendary takedown defense and technical fighting at range, he’ll likely be able to keep Volkanovski at bay.
The problems he faced whilst dwarfed by the rangier Max Holloway and Conor McGregor will not be an issue here and if I had to guess, José will be happy to work from distance here.
I’d back Aldo to stop a takedown from anyone at 155lbs and I just don’t see the comparatively less agile Australian catching the Brazilian with anything substantial.
Over three-rounds, again, I like Aldo in this one.
Volkanovski’s frame will likely work against him where it would have helped him in facing his last opponent Mendes.
Both guys had pretty much the same physique when they met at UFC 232 and while Aldo certainly had his troubles with Mendes in the past, he has experience in his locker that should allow him to get through this one in shape.
I can Aldo getting a finish if it comes but I like Volkanovski’s toughness to see him through.
Prediction: José Aldo by decision
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena