After a week away from UFC action, we will start pff the last month of 2021 with a stacked Fight Night card from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The fourteen bout fight card is headlined by a top ranked Bantamweight scrap as Rob Font takes on the resurgent Jose Aldo. In the co-main event, elite Lightweight strikers and former teammates Rafael Fiziev and Brad Riddell go at it in a match almost guaranteed to be Fight of the Night.
Rob Font vs. Jose Aldo (BW)
Rob Font (19-4, 9-3 UFC) made waves in the Bantamweight division in his last outing, knocking out title challenger Marlon Moraes in the first round. He followed that up with a dominant performance over Cody Garbrandt, winning a decision and going the full twenty five minutes for the first time in his UFC tenure. Font has a well-rounded skillset but shines through with his superb boxing technique. He is a boxer by trade, stopping twelve of his pro bouts inside the distance and eight by knockout. On the feet, Font likes to pressure forward and use feints to judge his opponent’s timing, using a diverse arsenal of strikes (I particularly like his sneaky quick right high kick) and not discriminating to the head. However, Font’s chin can be found inside the pocket when he is not able to use his quick footwork to quickly exit, though he has never been knocked out. Though he has some offensive wrestling and defensive submissions, he has a weakness in his takedown defense, but does find his footing quickly.
Featherweight GOAT and King of Rio Jose Aldo (30-7, 12-6 UFC) got back in the win column with a decision victory over Marlon Vera, and was last seen winning a decision over Pedro Munhoz in a firefight. Prior to that, he was riding three straight losses, two of those coming in his new home of Bantamweight. That said, that was to the best of the best in Marlon Moraes and current champ Petr Yan, and he showed himself well in both losses. Aldo utilizes great fundamental Muay Thai boxing, with great counter reads and great speed. His dangerous leg kicking game, demonstrated recently against Yan, still remains a danger for anyone looking to come into the cage. Aldo presents fantastic combos along with ferocious body striking and power, making him a dangerous contender at all times on the feet. His ironclad takedown defense gives him the ability to control where the fight takes place, and that is often on the feet.
We have a fantastic striking clash in the main event, with two boxing heavy styles. Both fighters prefer to do their work on the feet, so I fully expect a wild affair until someone drops or time runs out. Aldo is certainly more proven against higher level competition, but is much more worn in terms of fight age, even though Font is older. The close betting lines reflect what terrific matchmaking this is, but I grant a slight edge to Font. Not only is on an absolute tear as of late, he operates at a higher rate and works wonders with his combos. On top of this, Aldo is unlikely to take advantage of Font’s subpar wrestling defense, leaving him free to work his boxing.
My Pick: Rob Font via Decision
Rafael Fiziev vs. Brad Riddell (LW)
Kyrgyzstani Rafael Fiziev (10-1, 4-1 UFC) emerged in the UFC with a perfect 6-0 record, only to have it quickly ended by a Magomed Mustafaev spinning kick. “Ataman” rebounded with two decisions over Alex White and Marc Diakese, proving he has the chops for the world’s top organization. He then knocked out Renato Moicano in the first round and emerged victorious over Bobby Green in a Fight of the Night war to extend his win streak to four. As the striking coach at the renowned Tiger Muay Thai camp, Fiziev is about as elite of a Muay Thai striker as you can get, moving forward while hopping and feinting to provide no shortage of looks for his opponents. Fiziev has fantastic head movement and shot evasion, but can really on that too much at times. His grappling is primarily used to keep it on the feet, but he has shown glimpses of offensive skill there, but there isn’t much tape on that with six of his wins coming inside the first round.
Brad Riddell (10-1, 4-0 UFC) comes out of the uber-talented City Kickboxing gym with training partners like Israel Adesanya and Dan Hooker. “Quake” has elite-level striking based around his eight-point Muay Thai style, also training with the Tiger Muay Thai camp. His high pace striking is punctuated through powerful leg kicks and quick boxing, as well as mixing in kicks and elbows when he can. Riddell put on a Fight of the Night winning performance against Jamie Mullarkey in his UFC debut that showed his ability to brawl at a high pace, not fading even when tagged with several heavy shots. He has racked up four straight victories since joining the UFC, all via decision. His subpar takedown defense has been a concern, but Riddell has shown his ability to quickly regain his footing.
This is another top-flight striking clash, this time between two Muay Thai experts. In fact, they have both trained together at Tiger Muay Thai, and that intangible may very well come to play at fight time. This bout has been heavily anticipated by fight fans for some time, and it is not hard to see why. Both fighters bring a warring pace with no aversion to standing in the pocket and trading leather. The odds have been positioned at near even for some time for good reason, as this will be fiercely through the entire bout. I do not see this fight hitting the mat, for while Riddell is the more offensive grappler, Fiziev’s Sambo background and high takedown defense should keep this standing. THis is about as close a fight as the come, but I narrowly favor Fiziev. While Riddell is more composed defensively, Fiziev keeps a higher output along with punishing offensive power and combinations.
My Pick: Rafael Fiziev via Decision
Clay Guida vs. Leonardo Santos (LW)
My Pick: Leonardo Santos via Submission
Jimmy Crute vs. Jamahal Hill (LHW)
My Pick: Jimmy Crute via Decision
Brendan Allen vs. Chris Curtis (MW)
My Pick: Chris Curtis via Knockout
This card kicks off at 4:00 PM EST and the main card getting started at 7!
Categories: UFC Predictions
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