In another attempt at adding some talent north of 200 lbs, the UFC turns to Ibo Aslan and Paulo Renato Jr as both men look to cut down to 205 lbs, where they’ll need to stay if they want to maximize their success with the promotion.
We don’t often see the most eye-popping Light Heavyweight/Heavyweight talent on the Contender Series, but these two will be hoping to turn that trend around.
Ibo Aslan’s a slight favorite for this Dana White’s Contender Series fight.
- Ibo Aslan: -130
- Paulo Renato Jr: +100
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Ibo Aslan will have the biggest test of his career as he faces Paulo Renato Jr. Aslan, 27 years old, is 11-1 in his pro career with all wins coming by knockout. As told by his record, he’s not afraid to swing and swing early for the knockout. He’s got impressive power and pushes a high pace early in the fight that has made it difficult for fighters at the regional circuit level to stay upright. His power is shown in his kicks as well; his calf kick to the lead leg has sent multiple opponents to the mat and even began a fight-ending sequence where he crippled the front leg before raining ground n pound.
After the first round, Aslan slows significantly and the strikes start to lose some pop. His punches become more wild and predictable which leaves him open for counters as he often leaves his chin high and hands low in striking exchanges. He’s been taken down on a handful of occasions as his opponent is able to time his slower, looping entries and get to the hips. Against these lower-level wrestlers, he’s been able to return to his feet with little issue, but this likely won’t be the case against UFC-level grapplers.
Paulo Renato Jr is returning to the Contender Series but this time, he’s coming in as a Light Heavyweight. The 29-year-old suffered a decision loss to the much bigger Jamal Pogues last year and has since returned to his rightful weight class of 205. Renato has heavy hands like his opponent but unfortunately there isn’t a ton of viewable tape on his outside of the Pogues bout. From what we can see in this fight as well as his highlights, he’s a powerful striker up top with great leg kicks to attack low as well. He shows a more technical boxing style than Aslan showcased in the way he works the body to open up holes in his opponent’s defense before attacking the head.
Against Pogues, Renato Jr was finding some success in his striking, particularly with the leg kick as he targeted the inside and outside of the lead leg to accumulate damage across the whole lower calf. Though these worked well, he didn’t give much else in terms of output. His boxing combinations looked good but weren’t thrown nearly enough to outscore the constant jab and straight shots of Pogues. I wouldn’t expect him to make that mistake again at this level and Aslan isn’t going to allow him a lot of breaks in the action.
A lot of Aslan’s wins (10 of his 11 pro wins) were either debutants or had more losses than wins on their record. In his two other fights, he was submitted in the second and was able to earn the third-round knockout in the other after struggling to land his shots in the first two rounds.
Renato Jr looked way too small at heavyweight and I believe he’ll look much sharper at 205 lbs. Renato is the more technical striker and has shown to stay fresh longer than Aslan. I like Renato Jr at the money line.
Prediction: Paulo Renato Jr to win