José Aldo Jr. and Pedro Munhoz are both coming into UFC 265 having lost two before winning their latest bouts. Aldo, often referred to as “The King of Rio,” was long thought of as one of the pound-for-pound best in the world and without a doubt the greatest featherweight of all time. Six years after his legendary reign at 145 pounds came to an end, the former champ remains relevant in the rankings albeit one weight class lower, where he currently looks to regain a championship.
Pedro Munhoz has been competing in the UFC since 2014, making his debut while Aldo was already the reigning champion just one weight class north. However, it wasn’t until 2019 when Munhoz was granted a shot at recently dethroned Cody Garbrandt that the majority portion of fans found him on their radar. After upsetting Garbrandt with a highlight reel knockout, Munhoz went on to lose highly contested decisions to future and former UFC champions: Aljamain Sterling and Frankie Edgar. However, with a rebound win over top 10 ranked Jimmie Rivera, Munhoz re-established himself within the elite bantamweights.
Jose Aldo will seek to prove that a decade after winning the UFC featherweight championship he can recreate that moment as one of the few fighters to have attained belts in two weight classes. With only one Brazilian champion among each of the male and female rosters at the moment, the King of Rio also looks to reassert the Brazilian dominance we have seen in the past. At the same time, with the same latter goal, Munhoz looks to carry on the role of the Brazilian champions in a passing of the torch performance.
Aldo vs. Munhoz betting odds
As of now, Munhoz plays the role of the slight underdog, while Aldo is considered an even slightly higher favorite according to most betting platforms.
Aldo vs. Munhoz Breakdown
Both Aldo and Munhoz have high-level Jiu-Jitsu black belts. However, for quite a while this skill has been kept in both their back pockets as they prefer to stand and demonstrate heavy-handed striking styles inside the UFC. Both have sharp boxing skills with the power to back it, and devastating leg kicks, however, although they both enjoy fighting in these areas, the execution differs.
Jose Aldo is as explosive as any fighter, and his fast-twitch style often sees him load up on heavy punches especially his body hooks and right cross. In terms of defense, he favors more head movement than blocking, which both saves him from any impact at all but also requires much more energy. Between Aldo’s preference to throw his full power behind his shots as well as constant fast head movement, he is often early on able to damage his opponents very quickly before they can return as much to him. The downside to this is it is also the reason he has historically gassed himself out going into the last rounds.
Munhoz is also an incredibly heavy hitter, but his pacing is much more measured and constant rather than explosive. He is one of the rare fighters who was able to relatively match Frankie Edgar’s output in terms of movement. This is a skill he has to utilize against Aldo, who will likely get the better of the opening exchanges but could fade later on if Munhoz can keep up the pressure.
Munhoz is very good at cutting off the cage rather than chasing. However, he has to feint and attack at a high rate in order to keep Aldo reacting and moving outside the perimeter of the octagon in order to gas him. On Aldo’s side, he should do his best to stand his ground and force Munhoz to trade in the pocket. Look for Munhoz to attack the body to sap Aldo’s cardio more quickly.
Leg kicks have been a large weapon used to both men’s success in the past. Munhoz’s clinic of Jimmie Rivera was even reminiscent of Aldo’s famous match with Uriah Faber. However, there are two key differences to their leg kick game. Aldo more than often uses a traditional kick to the meat of the thigh, and Munhoz is one of the best at attacking the lower calf.
This is a particularly difficult kick to land on Jose Aldo who is one of the rare fighters to have found a way to make the traditional Muay Thai stance work in MMA. This stance is square, with a light front leg, easily used to check kicks. Often this isn’t applicable to MMA due to the threat of takedowns but with Aldo’s scrambling ability, he won’t be afraid to use it to defend Munhoz’s kicking game.
If Munhoz has any chance to work this part of his game, it has to be timed while Aldo is in motion. I would be hard-pressed to pick anyone who chooses to stand firm and trade leg kicks with the former champion.
Aldo vs. Munhoz prediction
If the fight were to be contested at five rounds I could see myself picking Munhoz. However, with both fighters willing to fight in similar areas I think Aldo has the ability to land the more impactful strikes early on. Furthermore, although Munhoz has shown the ability to up the pace in fights such as against Edgar, we’ve also seen him willing to stand in front of heavy hitters like Rivera, a massive mistake if done with Aldo. Munhoz will get stronger as the fight goes on but I think that Aldo has the potential to do more damage in the majority of 15 minutes.
Prediction: Jose Aldo to win 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.