On Saturday, fight fans will get a real treat when UFC Fight Night: Font vs. Aldo goes down at the APEX Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. The bout sheet is stuffed with 15 fights of varying importance, culminating with the mega main event, Jose Aldo vs. Rob Font. At 35, Aldo is still fighting at title contender level and looking pretty sharp. Rob Font is just a year younger but has considerably less entries of activity on his record. Both men will likely be next in line for a chance at the bantamweight champ.
The co-main event is the best-matched contest on the card. Rafael Fiziev keeps a blistering pace and Brad Riddell has legitimate power. You also have the fun yet unlikely matchup of Mickey Gall and Alex Morono. That is a fight you probably wouldn’t have thought of yourself, but boy does it sound like the perfect scrap! Manel Kape is also back in the octagon and he’s paired off quite competitively against Zhalgas Zhumagulov. So many great bouts in theory. Hopefully they reap big rewards in practice.
This is just a small sampling of the great contests that are scattered throughout this excellent bout sheet. There are plenty of other fights that will no doubt appeal to all sorts of combat appetites, but we’re going to take a look at the four that we feel are the most optimal bets to make on DraftKings Sportsbook.
Jose Aldo vs. Rob Font
Jose Aldo was once rumored to make a move up to lightweight, having had notable difficulties with weight cuts, and when he made the decision to move down rather than up a weight division, I was one of the staunchest detractors of the idea. I’m happy to report that I was wrong and am thoroughly convinced that Aldo could see yet another run at a belt. He’s looked sharp and still remains a lethal damage-dealer.
Rob Font has been a low-key dark horse for a while now and despite a stumble against Raphael Assuncao three-and-a-half years ago, has looked sensational since then. He’s taken part in fewer wars and doesn’t bear the brunt of nearly 20 years of experience the way Aldo does. Rob has proven he’s defensively responsible, tactically aggressive and calm under pressure. He carries legitimate power, but can also sustain a high pace and still remain effective.
Aldo still looks fast and dangerous, but he’s never been a cardio machine and that hasn’t changed. Font, on the other hand, can keep a break-neck pace and is a constant threat. Aldo is still a health hazard, but that finishing ability he was once famous for has started to erode and now we’re seeing a more tactical side to his game.
What I envision here is Aldo having a big start for a round or two where we might even see a knockdown or maybe a super stunner lands flush, but Font is durable enough to withstand it and then takes over in the later rounds, capitalizing on the waning energy of the former champ and landing a big hammer to hammer the coffin nail in.
Rafael Fiziev vs. Brad Riddell
WHAT A FIGHT! The violence gods are clearly smiling down on us because we’ve received the gift of this high level duel. Two men that go hell for leather as soon as the referee signals the call to action. Fiziev is coming off a FOTN win over Bobby Green and Riddell is also coming off a FOTN win over Drew Dober. Both men have just one defeat on their respective records, thus the incredibly narrow lines.
Riddell looks like he’s rounding out to be the more complete fighter of the two, evidenced in his fight with Dober where he secured several successful takedowns and controlled the pace and distance. Fiziev looked marvelous against Green until his stamina took a nosedive, which now gives Bobby a solid claim to a rematch in the future.
Neither man is especially dialed in on defense, preferring instead to create as much carnage as possible from Jump Street. Their kickboxing backgrounds have borne fruit for both with knockouts aplenty on their records. This fight comes down to versatility, cardio and composure. In the fight with Bobby Green, we saw Fiziev gas pretty hard in the third round, and even though he clearly hurt Bobby, he couldn’t maintain his pace. Riddell will be more than happy to capitalize on that and with the added takedown threat he presents and the way he stays calm under pressure, I’d give the finishing edge to the City Kickboxing product. Look for him to put an early end to Fiziev.
Jimmy Crute vs. Jamahal Hill
Australia’s Jimmy Crute has looked pretty good in his UFC run, even with the two losses (his only two). The one to Anthony Smith was especially hard to watch because the action was through the roof until the leg injury resulting from the kicking attack of “Lionheart”. Jamahal Hill is also coming off a pretty gnarly elbow injury, but even though the visuals of both Hill and Crute’s injuries were stomach-turners, neither man required a lengthy layoff.
Hill has legitimate power and speed, but his fight IQ could be better. Willingly choosing to go to the ground with Paul Craig is a fool’s errand and Hill paid the steepest price for it. Crute seems the more cautious of the two but still keeps a healthy pace and has a very good submission game to complement his grappling ability.
There’s opportunity for both men to seize here, I just think Crute has more avenues to victory. Hill is heavily reliant on his chin with little mind to defending it. That said, Hill’s team might have gone back to the drawing board to shore up those deficiencies in his skillset. I still think this fight ends early with Hill caught up in a submission.
Bryan Barberena vs. Darian Weeks
When Bryan Barberena’s fight with Matt Brown ended up a no-go thanks to a positive COVID-19 diagnosis for Brown, the MMA community was understandably upset. Who would take the place of Brown, a known merchant of thrills and excitement? Darian Weeks is a very worthy substitution. For those unfamiliar with him, he’s a Midwest product fighting out of Missouri with big power and solid wrestling. While he just has five pro fights—all wins, all finishes—he has plenty of cage experience thanks to a lengthy amateur run.
One can point to Barberena’s ultra-tough style that has seen him involved in some real wars and think that he’ll be able to take whatever Weeks throws at him and win the fight based on durability and the historically high pace he once pushed. However, that durability looks like it’s finally starting to give way to the tremendous physical stress it has endured. Barberena has looked quite mortal over the last few years, notching just one win in four fights. His willingness to stand and trade in wars like the one with Vicente Luque has cost him, and now he just doesn’t keep the same pace he once did.
Weeks could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back here, because he’ll be throwing hammers with intent. A win over Barberena before the last of his fight cachet is exhausted could propel him to a better name next time out. This seems like a prime opportunity for the young wolf to overtake the aging one with speed and power. Barberena could still take this, but after his last bout that saw Jason Witt snatch a majority decision from him, I think Weeks might indeed have the means to score a minor upset here. Look for him to score the knockout late in the fight.
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