Just In UFC 237 breakdown: Can Alexander Volkanovski unseat ‘King of Rio’ Jose Aldo in his hometown? MMA Life

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MMA Junkie Radio co-host and MMA Junkie contributor Dan Tom breaks down the UFC’s top bouts. Today, we look at a featured main-card fight for UFC 237.

UFC 237 takes place Saturday at Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN and ESPN+.

Also see:

Jose Aldo (28-4 MMA, 10-3 UFC)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’7″ Age: 32 Weight: 145 lbs. Reach: 70″
  • Last fight: TKO win over Renato Moicano (Feb. 2, 2019)
  • Camp: Nova Uniao (Brazil)
  • Stance/striking style: Orthodox/muay Thai
  • Risk management: Excellent

Supplemental info:

+ Former UFC and WEC featherweight champion
+ Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt
+ 4x Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion
+ 16 KO victories
+ 1 submission win
+ 12 first-round finishes
+ KO power
+ Athletic and agile
^ Good reactive instincts
+ Superb footwork
^ Lateral movement, pivots, back-steps
+ Accurate shot selection
^ Jabs and counter crosses
+ Devastating leg kicks
+ Excellent wrestling ability
^ Strong hips and base

Alexander Volkanovski (19-1 MMA, 6-0 UFC)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’6″ Age: 30 Weight: 145 lbs. Reach: 71.5″
  • Last fight: TKO win over Chad Mendes (Dec. 29, 2018)
  • Camp: City Kickboxing (New Zealand)
  • Stance/striking style: Orthodox/kickboxing
  • Risk management: Good

Supplemental info:

+ Regional MMA titles
+ Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt
+ National wrestling gold medalist
+ 11 KO victories
+ 3 submission wins
+ 7 first-round finishes
+ KO power
+ Relentless pace and pressure
+ Improved striking ability
^ Dangerous right hand
+ Strong inside of the clinch
^ Dirty boxing, elbows, knees
+ Superb wrestling ability
^ Takedowns, transitions, scrambles
+ Excellent top game
^ Aggressive ground striker

Point of interest: Pressure-cooking the king of Rio

In one of the most meaningful matchups at UFC 237, Alexander Volkanovski will attempt to recreate his own version of what Max Holloway was able to do to the longtime king of Rio de Janeiro.

An accoladed wrestler-turned-rugby player, Volkanovski comes forward in a compact stance, traditionally approaching the pocket like an oncoming juggernaut. Prodding with jabs, fakes and feints, Volkanovski will crash the distance with crushing kicks or his patented overhand right.

Since moving shop to City Kickboxing in New Zealand, Volkanovski has seemingly sharpened his footwork and overall striking fundamentals, measuring and moving in space more smoothly and on balance than before. Still, The Australian-born Macedonian cannot afford to be careless in his aggression, nor too comfortable behind his usual defensive shell given the counter-fighting tactician who will be standing across from him on Saturday night.

Enter Jose Aldo.

Commanding the cage with disciplined, technical footwork, we have seen Aldo, time and time again, steadily pressure his opponents into exchanges on his terms. Consistently keeping his feet beneath him, the Nova Uniao staple is seldom out of position, which in turn allows him to counter with conviction.

Displaying a solid sense of head movement, Aldo often slips and returns authoritatively with right hand-left hook counters or leg kicks. When pressing forward, the former champ traditionally has been known for his classic “Dutchie” combination, launching a left hook to the liver that feeds nicely into a right leg kick that could serve him well, considering his counterpart tends to lean on a shelling defense.

However, as many have noticed by now, Aldo has been reluctant to go to his leg kicks in recent years.

If you listen to the Brazilian’s coaches and corner, then you will hear them telling their fighter to go to them sparingly, only encouraging Aldo to kick toward the end of rounds or the fight itself. And given the fact that Aldo seems to stay incredibly aware of opposition either trying to counter him or take him down, I will be curious to see if this trend continues given the looming level-changing threats that Volkanovski will likely be looking for.

Next point of interest: Ground trappings

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