By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
REIGNING Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) featherweight champion Max “Blessed” Holloway makes his Octagon return this weekend against a familiar foe, taking on former champ Jose Aldo in the headliner for “UFC 218” in Detroit, Michigan.
Happening on Sunday (Manila time) at the Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, UFC 218 will see the top featherweights reengage four months after they first met where Mr. Holloway seized the gold in the division.
American Holloway (18-3) defeated the Brazilian legend Aldo (26-3) by way of technical knockout (punches) in the third round to assert his might on top of the division and extend his winning streak to 11 fights.
The loss, meanwhile, was the second in three fights for Mr. Aldo, who at one point in his Hall-of-Fame career racked up 18 straight wins.
With the fight being a rematch, one local combat sports writer and observer said fans should expect an interesting dynamic between the combatants.
“For their second fight, the roles between Holloway and Aldo have been reversed. Aldo can be expected to be eager to redeem himself after losing the belt. Holloway on the other hand, wants to show the world that his victory over the long-time champion wasn’t a fluke. So I’m expecting this fight to be a very tactical fight for both men,” said Mike Miguel, who writes for DojoDrifter.com and Tiebreaker Times, when asked by BusinessWorld for his thoughts on the rematch between Messrs. Holloway and Aldo.
He went on to say that Mr. Holloway will be a tough nut to crack and that as good as Mr. Aldo has been he will have his work cut out for him in trying to reclaim the featherweight title.
“While his confidence is definitely sky high right now, I don’t expect Holloway to show any letup and instead will continue to showcase the warrior’s mentality like he always does. Like what Hawaiian chiefs did back then, he will do everything he can to keep the title,” said Mr. Miguel.
He was quick to say though that he is not counting out Mr. Aldo outright, saying that he even sees the former champion bringing along some surprises to possibly stem the tide in his favor, or even win it all if he plays his cards correctly.
“I expect Aldo to do something different in this fight. In their first encounter, Aldo wasn’t able to put out Holloway with his boxing so I expect him to utilize the leg kicks more to slow down the champion. The key for him is to land his combinations while being able to get out of Holloway’s striking range to reduce the possible damage,” said Mr. Miguel.
“If Aldo gets his timing and his angles perfectly, I won’t be totally surprised if he gets to regain his belt by knockout,” he added.
Serving as co-main event for UFC 218 is the heavyweight clash between number one contender Alistair “The Demolition Man” Overeem and Francis “The Predator” Ngannou (#4).
Other featured fights in the main card are flyweight Henry “The Messenger” Cejudo (#2) against Sergio Pettis (#4); former lightweight champion Eddie “The Underground King” Alvarez (#4) versus Justin “The Highlight” Gaethje (#5); and women’s strawweight Tecia “The Tiny Tornado” Torres (#5) against Michelle “The Karate Hottie” Waterson (#6).
UFC 218: Holloway vs Aldo 2 will be shown live on Sunday beginning at 11 a.m. over Hyper Ch. 91 in SD or 261 in HD on Cignal TV. Encore telecast is at 7 p.m. on the same day.
In the Philippines, Cignal TV, the country’s foremost direct-to-home (DTH) company, is the home of the UFC after the two groups agreed to an extensive deal that will see the UFC beamed on various platforms.