UNITED STATES—A much-anticipated rematch between Max Holloway and Jose Aldo will take place Saturday, December 2 at UFC 218 in Detroit, Michigan, along with a string of undercard fights, including a notable heavyweight matchup between Alistar Overeem and Francis Ngannou.
Holloway, a Hawaii native and current UFC Featherweight Champion, was slated to face contender Frankie Edgar for the title, until Edgar was forced to withdraw due to injury. “Blessed” Holloway will now face former two-time champion Jose Aldo, the same man who Holloway took the championship belt from earlier this year at UFC 212.
Holloway has, without a doubt, quickly established himself as one of the preeminent fighters in the UFC today. His unorthodox fighting stance and tendency to switch positions at any given moment in a bout gives him an unpredictable dynamism that grinds down opponents quickly when combined with the volume of the shots he delivers rapid-fire. Though his wrestling and jiu-jitsu skills are somewhat underdeveloped compared to his striking prowess, he has displayed an uncanny ability in the past to resist takedowns and bounce back quickly whenever he is forced down to the mat.
On the other hand, Brazilian icon Jose Aldo presents as a more balanced fighter who has spent years honing both his striking and his ground game. He has repeatedly been named as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world and has been the bane of multiple lightweight divisions across mixed martial arts for over a decade. Despite two high-profile losses in recent years to both Holloway and Conor McGregor, Aldo remains nothing short of a legend. His infamous leg kicks and simple, devastating punch combinations are sure to present a problem for Holloway. Both men are going into this fight having faced each other professionally and they know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Moreover, this may be Aldo’s last chance to reassert himself as the indomitable force he was previously regarded as. Expect this matchup to be one of the best of the year.
Also fighting Saturday at Little Caesars Arena will be Cameroonian Francis Ngannou against Alistair Overeem (who, with a total of 59 professional bouts under his belt, seems intent on never retiring). Overeem is currently ranked as number one in the UFC’s heavyweight division and, at 37, is a legend in his own right. However, he faces a unique challenge in Francis Ngannou. The Cameroonian, who is coming off a nine-fight win streak, has set the current punching power record for the UFC and has appeared to be unstoppable against virtually every opponent he’s faced.
Ngannou has not, however, faced an opponent as experienced or as storied as Overeem. This fight will be a test for both men, but it is likely that Ngannou takes the victory. If he were a younger man, Overeem might hope to rely on the submission techniques that he used to significant effect in his early and mid-career. However, despite the lack of ground game evidenced by Ngannou so far, trying to bring the younger and stronger man down to the mat would be unwise. His athleticism and tenacity are unmatched in the heavyweight division. Overeem will need to be methodical if he hopes to pull off the win and pray that the relatively undisciplined Ngannou leaves an opening that he can exploit.
The mantra “anything can happen” has been proven innumerable times in the field of professional mixed martial arts. Between these two bouts, however, one thing you can be certain of is that there will be a lot of excitement riding on both these high-stakes fights. And a lot of blood.