UFC on ESPN: Font vs. Aldo takes place this Saturday night at the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas, Nevada, and marks the return of UFC events following a short break last weekend.
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This Saturday’s main event is an exciting bantamweight matchup between Rob Font and Jose Aldo. Font is now ranked #4 in the division after wins against Cody Garbrandt, Marlon Moraes, and Ricky Simon in his last three fights.
He’ll face the former featherweight champion who is now ranked #5 in the bantamweight division after beating Pedro Munhoz and Marlon Vera in the last 12 months.
UFC on ESPN 31 features many other exciting fights and fighters including a co-main event bout between Brad Riddell and Rafael Fiziev.
Continue reading for our Aldo vs. Font staff predictions before the UFC fights this weekend.
Aldo vs. Font betting odds
- Aldo: +115
- Font: -145
Aldo vs. Font staff predictions
Aldo vs. Font is a great matchup between some of the division’s best. They differ greatly which makes the style clash so compelling, Aldo is explosive and varied, Font is economical and measured. Both are experienced and smart fighters as well.
With Aldo, fans have seen many many looks over the years, from favoring his Muay Thai style, a heavy boxing style, and falling back on his great jiu-jitsu base to win fights. Most recently, it seems he has re-entered his Muay Thai-esque training full throttle, so expect a light front leg, ready to check kicks and a high loose guard that both serves to block and hide his diverse punching combinations. By comparison, Font is much more one-dimensional in his boxing approach but he uses the other various elements of his MMA game to complement this route. He has great submissions, mostly used when his striking forces his opponents to shoot, and he has a low kicking game that serves to cut off the angles used by his opponents to avoid his hands.
Firstly, in this matchup range is an important factor to look at. Rob Font holds a good reach over a lot of the division, and in the past he has used this by placing people on the end of his jab, forcing them back to maintain that range, and using leg kicks to cut off lateral space and knees and uppercuts to close the straight channel if they try to burst through. For the most part, this results in opponents frustrated, on the outside of Font’s long straight shots, unable to respond due to the range gap. However, Jose Aldo also has a great reach and will be only one inch shorter than Font in this department. While Font is one of the best at frustrating opponents by making them fight at his range, Aldo may very well be the best at frustrating people inside their range.
Aldo’s defensive work is not based around exiting and re-entering range, he likes to slip and weave through punches at close range, and has incredible reflexes in terms of checking kicks. This, coupled with equally amazing takedown defense makes Aldo a troubling problem to solve because against him, fighters are able to get shots off, but most of the time they simply don’t work. Aldo, as a fast-twitch fighter, likes to use head movement and quick blocking to set up fast hooks and uppercuts to the body and head, and although less frequently used nowadays, his leg kicks still land with venom and can change the momentum of the fight at any time.
The second aspect of this fight that I think is important to look at is efficiency. Aldo is able to work a step ahead of most fighters when they engage, partly because he is so technical and experienced but also because he is so fast and explosive. The benefit in this is that he almost always gets ahead early, able to beat opponents up and finish them, or accumulate enough damage to deal with a deteriorated foe as he tires himself out. The problem is, against the highest level of opponents like Max Holloway and Petr Yan, when he was unable to amount that kind of damage, the fading Aldo was outclassed by the better-conditioned athlete.
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Rob Font’s style is great in this situation. Font is efficient and economical, he never puts his foot too far on the gas, and he picks his opponents apart rather than load up and look for the one-punch KO. His utilization of the jab, and because he doesn’t force takedowns and rather looks to draw them out from his opponent, he never over-exerts himself grappling and rather snatches submissions at the right opportunities, most often to the neck.
Ultimately, I see Aldo getting the better of Font early and Font coming on late as Aldo fades. Font won’t enjoy a great reach advantage but he still lunges with the jab and cross to emphasize length, however, Aldo is so great at standing his ground and getting inside I doubt range will be a great benefit. The big question is whether or not Aldo can get at least three clear rounds under his belt before the fading phase begins, and I think he can, he looked as conditioned as ever in his last fight, albeit in a three rounder but that kind of improvement seems to be being slowly implemented in the crafty veteran.
Prediction: Jose Aldo by decision
Aldo has thrived in the UFC for 38 fights by following a simple yet incredibly dominant strategy: hit harder and faster than his opponent. Despite fighting in a lighter weight class where KO/TKO’s are less common, 17 of Aldo’s 30 wins have come by knockout. He packs power in his gloves and when he swings, he lands heavy. Aldo is an aggressive fighter who is willing to chase his opponents around the cage, cut off their escape route, and land. His hand speed, always an impressive sight, allows him to land to the body and head in a technical and devastating combination before his opponent has the chance to cover up or return fire. What might be the most dangerous aspect of Aldo is that he continues to grow as a fighter. In his last few fights, we’ve seen Aldo adopt a snapping leg kick that immobilizes his opponent and makes pressuring and landing even easier for the former champion. Aldo’s primary weakness is his gas tank can empty as the 3rd round closes. This is especially significant because his fight against Font is scheduled for 5 rounds. He’ll either need to deepen the tank, lower his output early, or finish the fight. In any case, despite being a slight underdog, Aldo’s pressure, boxing acumen, power, speed, newfound calf kick, and unmatched experience provide him several paths to victory.
Font is 1 year Aldo’s junior and has 14 fewer fights but sits one spot ahead in the rankings. Font, too, is a master boxer with fast and crisp combinations. He is tall and long for the division and uses his length expertly well behind a ramrod jab. Standing with a traditional boxing stance, Font often glides forward, snaps his jab, cuts, and angle, and lands a combination before his opponent has time to defend themselves. Beyond his speed, Font has top-tier cardio which allows him to continue landing with volume round after round. In his last fight, 5 rounds, Font threw 365 significant strikes and landed them at a 48% clip. The gap in Font’s game, as with many traditional boxers, is his vulnerability to leg kicks. He stands with a wide base and keeps at least half of his weight on his lead leg. His stance leaves his lead leg exposed and, because of his weight distribution, leg kicks land more significantly. Because of his elite-level though, Font has either been able to grit through, maneuver around, or counter well when his opponents attack his legs. He’ll need to continue this trend Saturday.
Recently, Aldo has looked like a championship fighter in 3 round fights. But, questions still remain in the actual championship rounds. Font has proven he can continue to land and land frequently throughout a long war. I think both men will exchange fire for 3 rounds, making each round razor thin. But, unless Aldo can debilitate Font’s leg or finish him in 15 minutes, I anticipate Font pulling away later in the fight.
Prediction: Font to win
Two of the best boxers in the UFC are set to square off in a highly anticipated main event bout in the Bantamweight division. #4 ranked Rob Font, holding a professional record of 19-4, is set to fight future HOF and former Featherweight champion, #5 ranked Jose Aldo, holding a professional record of 30-7. Both men are coming off impressive wins over perennial contenders within the division, setting up a fight where the winner puts themselves on the shortlist to fight for the belt.
Font’s boxing is clean and crisp. In his last fight, the movement he had within the octagon coupled with an unbelievably quick and punishing jab made his opposition, Cody Garbrandt, confused and frustrated on the feet. The difficulty Garbrandt had on the feet led him to employ a heavy-wrestling attack as the fight progressed. Although Garbrandt landed 3 takedowns within the fight, Font showed the ability to quickly return to his feet where he immediately began to reintegrate his stiff-jab. This jab-led, elite boxing approach, is perhaps the best I have seen within the UFC Bantamweight division. Moreover, I have not seen a fighter in this division, besides former champion, Petr Yan, have more success in implementing and executing a striking attack where range, pace, and exchanges are completely dictated by him, not the opposition. The main problem for Font, as he progresses as a fighter, is mitigating the damage to his lead leg, as his wide boxing stance leaves him susceptible to calf strikes. If he displays the ability to check leg kicks, Font has no identifiable weaknesses inside the octagon.
Aldo is an experienced fighter in the UFC who is currently on a career resurgence that can’t help but resemble that of fellow countryman, UFC Light Heavyweight champion, Glover Teixeira. Within his Bantamweight climb to the top, Aldo has showcased crisp and powerful striking. Although he is a notoriously slow starter in the octagon, once he gets going, he maintains a pace and rhythmic nature with his hands, equally attacking the head and body. His elite speed and power accompanied with having strong defensive prowess – 91% career takedown defense and a keen ability to check kicks – showcases why he was not only a former champion; but, also, a fighter who has an abbreviated record of 10-1 inside the octagon against opponents who have not been a champion themselves. This impressive record over non-championship fighters is inherently indicative of Aldo’s veteran-like approach of taking what is given to him inside the octagon. His willingness to alter a game plan based on the weaknesses presented by his opposition coupled with having a strong natural striking makes him a real problem for anyone who does not prioritize defense the same way they do offense.
I expect both men to implement a similar game plan to begin the fight, where each will look to attack the lead leg of the other. For Font, attacking the leg will lessen the power threat of Aldo. Although Aldo’s ability to check kicks has proven to be successful in the past, Font’s impressive ability to use his hands to set up alternative strikes should afford him success in attacking the lead leg early in the fight. For Aldo, attacking the lead leg should come somewhat easier given his lightning-quick kicks and wide stance of Font. Successfully attacking the lead leg will mitigate the footwork and defensive movement of Font, thus enabling Aldo to better work the head and body later in the fight. As the fight progresses, I anticipate the bout to resemble that of a boxing match with 4oz gloves, as both men favor punching as the primary method of striking, and both possess the ability to keep the fight off the mat. In the end, I believe Aldo’s inherent desire to rely on power over output will likely be his downfall. Although the fight will be a back and forth affair, the urgency of Font accompanied by his relentless output, led by his jab, will provide the edge needed to win this extremely close matchup.
Prediction: Font by decision
Braeden Arbour is an aspiring journalist out of Ontario, Canada. He is a recent graduate of Trent University, with a black belt in Karate and a blue belt in Judo. He has also been an avid fan of MMA for the last decade.
Michael Pounders is a high school English Teacher, a boxer himself, and is a fan who loves, gambles on, and nerds out about all things MMA.