It often comes as no surprise when fighters change weight classes.
Whether they’re taking a fight on short notice, looking to exploit a speed advantage in a higher division, or minimizing the unhealthy effects of weight cutting, fighters have been switching weight classes for years. It’s actually been a major trend of late for fighters to move up in weight, so when former featherweight champion Jose Aldo announced his intention to switch divisions, many figured he’d take his chances at 155 pounds.
Instead, Aldo unveiled his new plan to fight at bantamweight, which was quickly followed by the news that he would face former title challenger Marlon Moraes on the UFC 245 Pay Per View main card on ESPN+.
It’s a decision that many are still contemplating amid clouds of confusion.
Make no mistake about it, Jose Aldo is an MMA legend and a surefire UFC hall of famer. One of the greatest fighters of all time, Aldo made seven defenses of his featherweight title before Conor McGregor showed up and spoiled the party with the 13-second knockout that rocked and shocked the world. The loss definitely tarnished Aldo’s legacy a bit, but it’s impossible to deny what he has done in the UFC, and the WEC before that, so why the sudden move?
See, Aldo has never been undersized at 145 pounds. Not particularly tall or long, Aldo always possessed the strength and power to dominate his opponents. With an impeccable takedown defense, which essentially nullified the wrestling department, in his arsenal, Aldo also routinely delivered the most vicious leg kicks in the division, making a potential move up to 155 pounds a natural fit. In the higher weight class, he would be able to use his speed to his advantage while thrashing away at the legs and stability of his foes. There were also built in rivalries with mainstays like Anthony Pettis and McGregor.
All of this makes the move down to bantamweight all the more confusing.
There is one obvious reason for Aldo’s move down to 135 pounds: a shot at a second title.
Having already lost to current featherweight champion Max Holloway twice and suffering a loss the UFC 245 title challenger Alexander Volkanovski earlier this year, it’s safe to assume that Aldo will likely never earn another crack at the 145 pound title. Still, as a long time champion, Aldo wants at least one more shot at the belt, and with the lightweight title picture cluttered at the top, it would be tough for Aldo to earn a title shot in less than two years.
At bantamweight, however, the picture is quite different.
With current champion Henry Cejudo due to return from injury in early 2020, it’s still unclear who the next challenger will be. It’s likely a major factor in Aldo’s decision to cut down to 135 pounds.
Truthfully, the bantamweight division is absolutely stacked right now, but there is no clear cut contender, and should Aldo deliver a stunning performance against Marlon Moraes on the UFC 245 PPV main card, he very well could find himself in the hunt, although a number of things would have to go his way.
For starters, Aldo would need to finish Moraes within the distance at UFC 245.
Sure, Aldo’s a bigger name than many of the other contenders out there like Aljamain Sterling and Cory Sandhagen. But those guys, along with UFC veterans like Petr Yan and Urijah Faber, both of whom compete on the UFC 245 PPV on ESPN+, are mainstays in the bantamweight division, and are riding lengthy win streaks.
In order to leapfrog the pack of contenders, Aldo will not only need an impressive victory at UFC 245, but he’ll need Yan to lose to Faber, and for Sandhagen and Edgar to deliver a rather tepid affair when they fight in January.
It’s quite a lot to hope for, making the potential of an Aldo bantamweight title shot rather slim. So what can we really hope for when Jose Aldo enters the Octagon to face Marlon Moraes on December 14 at UFC 245?
Well, to begin with, let’s just hope he can make the weight.
Anyone who has followed Aldo’s career knows that there was a time when he even had difficulty making the featherweight limit. In fact, so bad were his weight cuts that he nearly lost his UFC debut after gassing out in the fifth round against Mark Hominick at UFC 129.
However, with every successive and successful weight cut, along with improved science and nutrition, Aldo looked better and better on the scale, but the idea of him shedding an additional 10 pounds just feels outrageous. Fortunately, he’s facing Moraes, another bantamweight who cuts a large amount of weight and is prone to fading in the later rounds. Moraes also presents a favorable stylistic matchup for Aldo. He’ll likely engage Aldo in the very type of fire fight that can produce a highlight reel knockout.
With Aldo pressuring and using his leg kicks to set up the boxing game, Moraes will likely attack from the outside with his Muay Thai. Eventually, however, he’ll be unable to retreat from Aldo’s advances, meaning the pair will need to exchange in close range. This is exactly where the action will play out, in the in fight.
Playing at close range, Aldo could very well deliver a knockout punch, but it’s still impossible to gauge how his power will translate down a weight class, especially after draining his body to make it down to 135 pounds. There’s also the uncertainty about how he will be able to take a punch; fighters moving down in weight are often susceptible to knockouts, as the brain has less fluid around it to help withstand blunt force trauma.
This is truly one of the biggest question marks surrounding Jose Aldo’s bantamweight debut, and a big reason to tune in to the UFC 245 PPV main card on ESPN+. This fight against Moraes could very well mark the reinvention of Jose Aldo, but it could also signal the end of a great career. The only way to know is to watch all the action on December 14.
The UFC 245 PPV main card on ESPN+ begins at 7 p.m. PST / 10 p.m. EST.
UFC 245 PPV main card (ESPN+)
Kamaru Usman vs. Colby Covington – UFC welterweight title fight
Max Holloway vs. Alexander Volkanovski – UFC featherweight title fight
Amanda Nunes vs. Germaine de Randamie – UFC bantamweight title fight
Jose Aldo vs. Marlon Moraes
Urijah Faber vs. Petr Yan
UFC 245 Preliminaries (ESPN 2) 5 p.m. PST / 8 p.m. EST
Mike Perry vs. Geoff Neal
Ketlen Vieira vs. Irene Aldana
Matt Brown vs. Ben Saunders
UFC 245 Early Prelims (UFC Fight Pass) 1:30 p.m. PST / 4:30 p.m. EST
Chase Hooper vs. David Teymur
Brandon Moreno vs. Kai Kara-France
Jessica Eye vs. Viviane Araujo
Punahele Soriano vs. Oskar Piechota
*Fight Card Subject to Change
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