UFC 218: Holloway vs. Aldo 2 Preview
A preview of Saturday’s UFC 218 card in Detroit.
Updated: Nov. 30, 2017 • 7:21 AM ET
Jose Aldo is looking to regain the UFC featherweight title.
The UFC will storm into Detroit on Saturday with one of the best fight cards of the year. The main event will be a rematch for the featherweight title between former champion Jose Aldo and current champ Max Holloway.
After weathering an early storm, Holloway proved his resiliency and dominated Aldo to win the title at UFC 212 in June by third round TKO in front of the former champ’s home crowd in Brazil.
At just 25 years old, Holloway continues to improve with every fight. The champion is riding an 11-fight win streak with his last loss coming in 2013 to lightweight champion Conor McGregor by unanimous decision. During his streak, Holloway has defeated the likes of Aldo, Cub Swanson, Jeremy Stephens, Ricardo Lamas and Anthony Pettis.
Holloway was originally scheduled to fight No. 2 ranked featherweight Frankie Edgar, but Edgar withdrew from the fight due to injury. With Aldo stepping in for Edgar, Holloway’s approach hasn’t changed.
"I heard a lot of names -- Cub Swanson, Ricardo Lamas, Brian Ortega, Darren Elkins, Tony Ferguson, Conor McGregor," Holloway told ESPN. "I told them I didn't care. They already know I don't care. All I ask is to send me a contract.
"Our first fight, I don't know what people are watching, but some say I was losing until I dropped him in the third. Those must be some hardcore Aldo fans. But he's been one of the best guys for years, so to show I'm the best in back-to-back fights, sign me up."
There was speculation that Aldo may have been injured in the first fight due to the low volume of leg kicks attempted — a move that he has heavily relied on in the past. Holloway feels that was nothing more than an excuse.
"That was kind of cowardly to me," Holloway said. "To say something like that and take away from someone's win. I've never taken away from someone's win. I just thought it was silly.
"Hopefully he doesn't have an injury this time, and hopefully he kicks more. Kicks don't -- the guy was dead tired in the second round. There's a feeling in there when a guy is falling off. His mouth was open. I was able to taunt him. I Stockton-slapped him, and from then on I knew, 'Wow, this guy is not really moving anymore.' That was the time to turn up the heat, and that's what we did."
Holloway will certainly add more depth to his legacy if he can defend the 145-pound belt for the first time and once again beat one of the all-time greats in the history of the featherweight division.
The fight will be on a bit of short notice for Aldo, as he’ll have to end his training camp two weeks early. He initially trained for a rematch with Ricardo Lamas in December, so this won’t be similar to other short-notice circumstances we’ve seen in the past. Aldo has never lost a rematch in his career, but this will be his first coming off a loss.
The co-main event of the evening will be a heavyweight showdown between former title challenger and No. 1 ranked Alistair Overeem taking on No. 4 Francis Ngannou. Some believe this fight will be a title eliminator with the winner earning the right to challenge champion Stipe Miocic.
After unsuccessfully challenging Miocic for the title at UFC 203 last September, Overeem has won two straight fights. He defeated Mark Hunt and Fabricio Werdum, respectively, en route to Saturday’s matchup with Ngannou. Overeem is one of the most dedicated strikers in the history of the heavyweight division, but he’ll face a fighter with devastating power of his own this weekend.
Ngannou has quickly become one of the most talked about fighters in the UFC. With his superhero-like physique and one-punch knockout power, he has quickly become the most hyped fighter with the potential to dethrone Miocic.
The 31-year-old from Cameroon is 5-0 in the UFC with his most recent victory being a first-round knockout of former champion Andrei Arlovski in January. This was his first real step-up in competition, and Overeem will certainly represent the toughest test of his career. All of Ngannou’s wins have come by finish, but we haven’t seen him truly tested in the Octagon.
Will Overeem be the first fighter to force the issue and put Ngannou in real danger?
Rest of the main card
Also on the main card is a flyweight fight between No. 2 ranked Henry Cejudo and No. 4 Sergio Pettis. Cejudo is coming off an impressive second-round knockout of No. 6 ranked Wilson Reis in September, and the 30-year-old has shown consistent signs of improvement since challenging champion Demetrious Johnson for the title at UFC 197 last April. A win over a rising star like Pettis could move him to the front of the line to once again challenge for the title.
The 24-year-old Pettis is also looking for a title shot, not to mention his fifth win in a row. Pertaining to total skill set, Pettis is likely the most talented fighter in the flyweight division aside Johnson. He continues to sharpen his skills, illustrated in his last performance against Brandon Moreno, where Pettis showed the ability to change his approach in the midst of trouble. He completely dominated Moreno for a five-round unanimous decision victory, and a win over Cejudo would likely get him a fight with No. 1 Joseph Benavidez, or possibly even a title shot.
The main card will also feature a lightweight fight between former champion and No. 4 ranked Eddie Alvarez, and No. 5 Justin Gaethje. The two fighters have opposed each other as coaches in the most recent installment of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality television series, but they’ll finally settle the score in the Octagon on Saturday.
Alvarez is still trying to rebound from his bad title loss to Conor McGregor at UFC 205 last November. He followed that loss with a no contest against No. 7 Dustin Poirier at UFC 211, a fight that had Fight of the Year candidacy written all over it until Alvarez landed knees to Poirier’s head while he was down, which is an illegal move. Alvarez had been badly hurt in the fight, but rebounded with a flurry of punches, hurting Poirier badly and looking like he was in control until the illegal blows.
Gaethje made his UFC debut in July in spectacular fashion against No. 11 Michael Johnson. The fight won Fight of the Night honors, and Gaethje earned Performance of the Night. UFC fans were introduced to Gaethje’s do-or-die approach that summer night, and he didn’t disappoint as he landed regularly on Johnson, but not without taking punishment himself and displaying his iron-like jaw.
Gaethje is the former WSOF lightweight champion and successfully defended the belt five times before signing with the UFC. Hardcore MMA fans have become accustomed to his reckless approach to fighting, and there’s no doubt that he’ll give UFC fans a second dose of his fighting style against Alvarez. A dramatic win could put Gaethje next in line for a title shot.
Rounding out the main card is a women’s strawweight matchup between No. 5 Tecia Torres and No. 6 Michelle Waterson. Torres is 5-1 in the UFC with her only loss coming by unanimous decision to champion Rose Namajunas last April. Since that loss, she has won two straight fights, one of them being an impressive submission victory over Juliana Lima in July.
Waterson is 2-1 in the UFC with her only loss also coming to Namajunas by submission in April. Both of her wins have come by submission, most recently against Paige VanZant that earned her Performance of the Night honors. A win for either fighter on Saturday would likely land them a matchup with someone in the top three of the women’s strawweight rankings.
Lightweight fight - Charles Oliveira vs. Paul Felder
Welterweight fight - No. 15 Alex Oliveira vs. Yancy Medeiros
Lightweight fight - David Teymur vs. Drakkar Klose
Women’s strawweight fight - No. 9 Felice Herrig vs. No. 11 Cortney Casey
UFC Fight Pass Early Prelims
Women’s strawweight fight - Amanda Cooper vs. Angela Magana
Welterweight fight - Sabah Homasi vs. Abdul Razak Alhassan
Light heavyweight fight - Jeremy Kimball vs. Dominick Reyes
Heavyweight fight - Justin Willis vs. Allen Crowder