With two of the biggest names in MMA set to compete on UFC 245 this weekend, we take a look at who has the greatest chance of overcoming the odds and taking home the win.
Let’s not beat around the bush on this one. Both of these matchups are weird as hell and if you had told me a year ago that Aldo and Faber would each be players in the bantamweight division by December of 2019, I’d have likely laughed in your face.
As we all know, MMA is the strangest of games and now, against all odds, two unlikely candidates find themselves set to compete on the UFC 245 main-card.
I suppose the purpose of this piece will be to take a look at each of these legends, their potential to upset the odds this weekend, and from there, their chances of making a dent on the busy bantamweight title-picture.
Both guys are in strange positions in their respective careers and while they are certainly being looked at as the betting underdogs, a victory for either man could well be massive.
Let’s start with Faber.
Currently riding a two-fight win-streak that was separated by a period of two-and-a-half years spent in retirement, Urijah’s most recent outing saw him blast through the rising prospect Ricky Simon in under a minute.
It was an incredible spectacle and for what it’s worth, an impressive win, but I think it’s fair to say that the MMA community as a whole have been wary of jumping back on-board the Faber-train.
On top of that, the fact that The California Kid has been pegged to face Petr Yan tells you a lot about the UFC’s faith in his chances.
Yan is one of the most highly-touted bantamweight talents in the sport right now – a fighter as technically promising as any athlete pound-for-pound on the roster.
Those who have watched him during his rise will know exactly what I am talking about and unfortunately, from the outside looking in, it does appear as though the UFC are setting Faber up as a big-name offering for one of the future contenders to the 135lb throne.
Look, Urijah can certainly pull off the win. This is MMA, of course, and the slightest of mistakes on the part of his opponent can be enough to swing momentum in his favour massively.
That being said, the Ricky Simon victory, though impressive, leans more onto the side of a lucky shot than any massive technical leap the 40-year-old former WEC champ has made during his time out.
For me, to see that happen twice in a row would be nothing short of astounding.
Faber’s chances: 2/10
I wasn’t sold on the notion that Aldo was through at 145lbs once he lost out to Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 237 and even now, I still think he would be better suited either returning to his natural home or moving up to lightweight.
The idea that Aldo, who likely walks around at about 160lbs, will be making the bantamweight limit is quite frankly sickening.
I’m a fan of fighters moving up in weight when they find themselves on the larger side within those who occupy their home-division, but this seems like a move born out of some misguided belief that his best work is yet to come at bantamweight.
10lbs, relative to the overall weight of these smaller fighters, is an absolutely massive amount to shed in preparation for a cage-fight and as soon as TJ – whose chin had been cracked in the past – decided to drop down, I had a hunch that it would spell danger.
For Aldo, who has even more miles on the tank than Dillashaw, a pairing against a fighter of Marlon Moraes’ skills could be similarly disastrous.
Moraes is a killer and no one loss to Henry Cejudo can change that.
Had this fight taken place at 145lbs, I’d likely favour Aldo pretty heavily, though.
As far as stylistic clashes go on this card, this one is definitely among the most intriguing. I just feel as though José is making a major miscalculation with this latest career decision.
In a time where we’re seeing fighters like Kelvin Gastelum, Dustin Poirier, and even Daniel Cormier do some of their best work upon stepping up a division, it’s becoming increasingly clear that doing the opposite is generally a bad idea.
That being said, Aldo is a tremendous fighter and if his cardio and ability to take a shot aren’t compromised by this drastic change to his physique, I can see him being competitive with Moraes.
Whether it will be enough to see him through is anyone’s guess at this point but I will be holding off on making a solid prediction until I see the former featherweight champion on the scales.
As things stand, I’m not especially hopeful but I would give him a much better shot at getting his hand-raised than Faber.
Aldo’s chances: 5.5/10
Sure, he has his battle-scars but as far as making a fresh start goes at 135lbs, he is perhaps the best-suited out of the three – even with the absolute nightmare duo of Chan Sung Jung and Cory Sandhagen ahead of him.
Only time will tell how things play out, I suppose.