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UFC Vegas: Font vs Aldo - Dec 4 🇺🇸


wandshogun09
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The 4th. The Apex. It’s FOAL vs NTDO!!!

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ESPN+ MAIN CARD
Rob Font vs Jose Aldo 

Brad Riddell vs Rafael Fiziev

Clay Guida vs Leonardo Santos

Jim Crute vs Jamahal Hill

Brendan Allen vs Chris Curtis 

Bryan Barberena vs TBA

ESPN+/FIGHT PASS PRELIMS
Maki Pitolo vs Dusko Todorovic

Zhalgas Zhumagulov vs Manel Kape

Jake Matthews vs Jeremiah Wells

Mallory Martin vs Cheyanne Buys 

Alonzo Menifield vs William Knight 

Claudio Puelles vs Chris Gruetzemacher 

Philipe Lins vs Azamat Murzakanov 

Alex Morono vs Mickey Gall 

Louis Smolka vs Vince Morales 

 

This isn’t the confirmed bout order, I’m going off how Marcel Dorff has it for now. Really love this card. In its current form, and I know that’s not likely to last, I honestly think it’s one of the best Fight Night cards of the year easy. On paper anyway.

 

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Rob Font vs Jose Aldo headlines. Fantastic fight this. I’ve been waiting for Font to break through for a while and he’s finally done it. Shame I’m gonna have to root against him this time but it should be an absolute belter whoever wins. We’ve all been saying for a while now that the Bantamweight division is on fire, this is just another example of that. Everyone’s talking about Yan, Sterling, Sandhagen, Dillashaw etc. These two are nipping at the heels of that lot and whoever wins this fight - #4 against #5 in the rankings - won’t be far off title contention after this Sterling vs Yan 2 business finally gets settled.

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Font’s one of those guys who’s kind of gone under-appreciated over the years but you look back at his record, and especially if you actually watch his fights, you realise he’s also probably one of the most underrated in the 135 division. He’s 19-4 now and on a nice 4 fight win streak. He beat Sergio Pettis and Ricky Simon and stopped Marlon Moraes but there were gaps of inactivity in there which definitely slowed his roll. He got his big break in May though, a 5 round main event spot against Cody Garbrandt.

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He pretty much schooled the knuckle dragging, puppy ear mutilating wanker the whole fight. Think I had it a shutout scoring-wise on the night. A really strong performance and a stellar display of technique over power, brains over brawn etc. Just beat Garbrandt to the punch all night and made him look silly hitting air for a lot of it. A finish would’ve been nice, they always are but, minus a finish, this was about as good a showing as you could ask for. Garbrandt’s a knob but he’s also a former champion and is still considered a name in the lighter weight classes so this was definitely a big win for Font. Hence it bagging him this opportunity here.

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Aldo’s a few steps up from Garbrandt, in my opinion though. I always say it but I’ll say it again. The talk of his decline has been well premature. While he’s lost a step from his absolute peak, he’s still a few steps ahead of the vast majority of the division and I think it’s more a case of the likes of Holloway, Volkanovski, Yan etc just being that new breed who’ve stepped it up and been part of the evolution of the sport. I don’t think it’s so much Aldo has regressed as much as he’s stayed at around the same level and those guys have just caught up to him. Either way, Aldo is a legend. One of the best to ever do it. I don’t need to list his accolades in the sport. You can listen to any interview from his last fight week and hear his peers who were on the same card gushing with praise and tributes for him. The man’s a gift to any fan of combat sports, especially the striking aspect. Enjoy him while he’s still around.

Anyway, yeah, really love this matchup. Two of the better technical strikers on roster for me, regardless of weight class. Font’s more of a boxer but he’s shown other weapons in the past. Off the top of my head, the big knee he put Matt Schnell down with was nasty. And obviously Aldo’s well rounded as fuck on the feet. His hands, the kicks, the knees, the body shots. He’s a joy to watch. Really not sure how it goes, to be honest, which is the beauty of a fight like this. Not only is it great stylistically, it’s so well matched because they’re both so good technically. Really looking forward to it and I like both but I’m fully rooting for Aldo. Can’t go against him and, as unlikely as it seems at this point, there are few things that’d make me happier as a MMA fan than seeing Aldo win another UFC title before he hangs it up. I’d at least like to see him make it to another shot at the gold anyway.

 

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Brad Riddell vs Rafael Fiziev is this card’s ***WAND’S ONE TO WATCH*** and I can’t wait for it. Luckily won’t have to wait much longer. This is one of the things about the non-stop schedule of cards these days, so many killer fights sneak up on you. I remember buzzing when this one was announced, then a million other fights came behind it and I forgot all about it. Just looked up the card to do this post now and there it is. Completely slipped my mind that this was happening until now. And now it’s just 2 weeks away! Brilliant fight. Riddell is 30 years old from New Zealand. 10-1 and on a 7 fight winning streak. I instantly became a fan of him after his UFC debut against Jamie Mullarkey a couple of years back. If you missed it get it watched, you’ll thank me later. Since then he’s won another 3 fights, including a FOTN barnburner against Drew Dober at UFC 263 in June. He’s one of those fighters who seemingly just has a style that it’s impossible to have a dud with. And as much as I’ve raved about him, I’m an even bigger fan of his opponent.

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Yes.

Fiziev’s 28, from Kazakhstan but lives and trains in Thailand and he’s a striking specialist. Went 39-8 with 29 knockouts in Kickboxing and so far he’s 10-1 in MMA with notable UFC wins over Marc Diakiese, Renato Moicano and Bobby Green in his last 3 outings. Insanely fun style to watch. Even when he’s on the defence he’s pulling off those mad Matrix style lean back moves and he’s a little whirlwind on the offence as well. I’d be amazed if this is anything short of a POTN winner, either FOTN or one of them bagging $50K for a spectacular performance or a big finish. I’ve probably jinxed it now but this could well be a late contender for FOTY if they’re both on their A game. Can Lightweight get any more stacked?!

 

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Clay Guida vs Leonardo Santos is an interesting clash between two Lightweight oldies. Guida turns 40 a few days after this show and Santos is 41. Good innings for 155ers but their days are surely numbered now. Guida will probably be kept around regardless, to be fair. He’s part of the furniture now I suppose.

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One of the most exciting fighters in the sport back in the mid to late 2000s and one half of a handful of some of the best fights in Lightweight history. The classics with Tyson Griffin, Roger Huerta and Diego Sanchez are still among my personal favourite fights ever. I’ll always have a soft spot for the barmy sod for that run. His fights have been nowhere near as entertaining over the last decade or so but him changing up his style is what’s given him longevity in the sport. If he’d carried on as Caveman Clay he’d have no doubt burnt out and disappeared by 2011ish. As much as I was gutted when he joined Greg Jackson’s gym and got ‘tamed’, it undoubtedly added years onto his career. Can’t fault him. It’s coming to an end but he did take Mark Madsen to a split decision in his last fight so there’s some life in him yet. Santos is a different case entirely. He’s slightly older than Guida but doesn’t have nearly the amount of miles on the clock because he’s been nowhere near as active. At one point he was out 3 years from 2016-19 and has only fought sporadically since. World class grappler though, BJJ black-belt, armbarred GSP in the ADCCs years ago etc. In MMA he knocked out Kevin Lee before beating Kevin Lee became cool. He’s been quite frustrating, to be honest, because he seemed to have the tools to cause some problems but just disappeared for large chunks of time. He got sparked by the ground and pound of Grant Dawson in March as well, so the rustiness, inactivity and age might’ve finally caught up to him now. Still an intriguing fight because Guida’s so aggressive with the takedowns that he’s left himself susceptible to submissions in the past and that could cost him here. But he’s also probably much sharper due to his constant activity during Santos’ layoffs.

 

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Jim Crute vs Jamahal Hill. Another quality fight between two up and comers who’ve had the prospect tag attached to them for a bit now. Both have hit stumbling blocks recently though. Aussie Crute went 12-1 initially with some solid wins in there over Paul Craig, Michal Oleksiejczuk and Modestas Bukauskas. He ran into Anthony Smith last time out though and suffered a leg injury and couldn’t come out for the second round. He’s only 25, it’s not the end of the world and he’s still got potential but he needs to get back on track here. Hill went 8-0-0-1 with the only blemish being a win overturned to a stupid No Contest because he got had by USADA for smoking weed. He ran into his first legit loss in June though when Paul Craig submitted him and nearly snapped his arm with an armbar. These setbacks for both were hardly disasters. They both have time and there’s probably better to come. I like these clashes between guys on the climb myself.

 

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Brendan Allen vs Chris Curtis. Right then. This has been proper fuck about but could be a bit of a sleeper actually. It was originally Allen vs Brad Tavares but Tavares dropped out. Then Roman Dolidze stepped in and dropped out. Third time lucky hopefully because I really like watching Allen fight. He’s got an aggressive style on the feet and on the ground and I actually think he’s one of the more slept on up and comers in the Middleweight division. He’s still only 25 and he’s already pretty experienced at 17-4 with 14 finishes. He’s got a submission win over Kevin Holland that nobody ever really talks about for some reason and he’s also beat Tom Breese and Kyle Daukaus in a corker of a fight last year. Then in his last fight he had a really fun hard hitting scrap with Punahele Soriano and handed Soriano his first loss. He’s really fucking good and I genuinely think he could go on to be a player in the next couple of years. If he didn’t have that loss to Strickland in there he’d be on a 10 fight streak now but maybe that loss will be a good thing in the long run because he probably needed more time anyway before brushing up against the top 10. Curtis is making his second appearance in the Octagon after a very successful debut at UFC 268 the other week. He weathered the storm of Phil Hawes and came through with the TKO late in the first round, improving his record to 27-8 with 16 finishes. Could be fun this one.

 

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Maki Pitolo vs Dusko Todorovic. I like this. ‘Coconut Bombz’ vs ‘Thunder’. Both coming off losses but style-wise I could see this being fireworks. Pitolo especially is in desperate need of a win here. I’ve enjoyed most of his fights but he’s lost 3 in a row now and been subbed in 2 of them. Todorovic came in undefeated and bashed up Dequan Townsend in his UFC debut but it’s all gone to cock for him this year. He got stopped by Punahele Soriano in January then lost a decision to Gregory ‘Obama’ Rodrigues in a bombfest. These fights are always potential ‘loser leaves’ things and that usually goes one of two ways. Either they fight overly cautious knowing their job’s on the line, or they come out swinging like lunatics knowing their job’s on the line. I think this’ll be a fun scrap though. Todorovic only seems to have one mode and it’s attack. And I can’t see Pitolo shying away from that.

 

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Zhalgas Zhumagulov vs Manel Kape. Interested to see how this goes. Not massively familiar with Zhumagulov. Seen a couple of his fights, a loss and a win, but that’s it. He’s 14-5 now and coming off a submission win over Jerome Rivera in July. He has pre-UFC wins over current UFC fighters Tyson Nam and Tagir Ulanbekov as well. It’s more Kape I’m looking forward to seeing here. He came in with quite a bit of hype as the former RIZIN champ and stuff but he got off to a shite start in the UFC with points losses to Alexandre Pantoja and Matheus Nicolau. In fairness, they matched him up kind of tricky right away there but still, going 0-2 in your first two trips to the Octagon is obviously not ideal. He finally snapped the losing skid in August with a highlight reel flying knee KO on Ode Osbourne so I’m curious to see if that win has given him his swagger back here.

 

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Jake Matthews vs Jeremiah Wells. Might be alright. Matthews has never quite taken off like some thought he would a few years back. He came into the UFC really young at just 19 years old and had mixed results but the raw talent was there and he’s managed to beat the likes of Li Jingliang, Emil Meek and Diego Sanchez since. He’s always had those losses sprinkled in though and never been able to put any kind of run together. He’s 17-5 now coming off a submission loss against Sean Brady in March. I don’t know what to make of him really. He’s still only 27 but I just don’t see him ever getting over that hump. Even against a washed up Sanchez, yeah he won but he never looked that good. I don’t know. Wells on the other hand…

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Only seen one fight of his, his UFC debut in June. He knocked out Warlley Alves in style and made a hell of a first impression on me. He’s 9-2 overall with 7 inside the distance. Haven’t got much to go on from what I’ve seen but I’m already more invested in seeing him fight again than I am Matthews who’s been around years.

 

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Mallory Martin vs Cheyanne Buys. Nothing special but could pleasantly surprise us, I guess. Was originally supposed to be Martin against Montserrat Conejo but Conejo just pulled out the other day. Not sure why but I bet Neil’s gutted. Anyway, in steps Cheyanne Buys. She’s the fresher in my memory here. She got ragged about by Conejo in March in her UFC debut but then bounced back big time in July…

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Kicked Gloria De Paula’s face off in a minute. Can’t remember much of Mallory Martin. She’s fought in Invicta, DWCS and 3 times in the UFC but I’m drawing a blank. Think I saw her last fight against Polyana Viana but she got submitted early in that one so not a lot to go on. She’s 7-4 with 4 finishes and she’s a BJJ brown-belt.

 

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Alonzo Menifield vs William Knight has been added just 2 weeks out. I feel like these two have been scheduled to fight before but I might be wrong. I’m almost certain I’ve previewed this one before but it got scrapped. Regardless, it’s a proper battle of the bulls. Both are built like absolute tanks. Especially Knight. Look at him.

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Fucker looks like an action figure. He’s 10-2 with 9 knockouts and is coming off a POTN winning first round demolition of Fabio Cherant in August. I don’t think he’ll ever have enough to break into that cluster of top guys at 205 but he adds some much needed spice to the mid-level of that division. Menifield is the same really. Went a perfect 9-0 with 9 finishes at the start of his career but has pretty much found his ceiling in the UFC with losses to OSP and Devin Clark in 2020. He’s since bounced back with a couple of wins and beat up Ed Herman last time out but, like Knight, I can’t see him ever getting much higher up the ladder than he is currently. He’s 34 now, Knight’s 33. They are what they are at this point. But in fights like this where they’re matched up with guys on a similar level I think there’s a lot of fun to be had. This one in particular should be an explosive slobberknocker.

 

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Claudio Puelles vs Chris Gruetzemacher. Seen both fight before but can’t say I’m hugely familiar with either. Puelles is 25 years old, Peruvian with a 10-2 record. He’s barely fought over the last few years but comes into this one off a points win over Jordan Leavitt in June. Gruetzemacher is 35, 15-4 and got a decision off Rafa Garcia in his last fight in July. He got fucking battered in under 2 minutes by Alexander Hernandez before that though. Proper squash match stuff it was. Not a clue. It’s just filling up a slot on the card.

 

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Philipe Lins vs Azamat Murzakanov has my interest piqued a little bit. Lins is whatever. 36 years old, former PFL fighter, he’s gone a dismal 0-2 in the UFC and hasn’t fought in well over a year. Murzakanov is the pull here. He’s undefeated at 10-0 with 8 finishes, won the BRAVE 2019 Grand Prix tournament (whatever that’s worth) and scored a quick TKO on DWCS in August to get in the door. He also clobbered Andre Muniz in just 50 seconds on a show in Russia in 2016. Muniz went on to snap Jacare’s arm and retire him earlier this year. Don’t know how good Murzakanov is yet of course but he’s certainly off to a strong start.

 

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Alex Morono vs Mickey Gall. Not a bad fight but can’t say I’m fussed. Morono’s done alright recently. Scored his biggest career win in May, stopping Donald Cerrone in a round. Yeah Cerrone’s on his last legs but everyone jumped on McGregor’s dick when he bashed up Cerrone so it’s only fair to give Morono some credit as well. He’s 20-7-0-1 now. I don’t know what it is about him though, I just never really give a bollocks about his fights no matter who he’s in with. Maybe the fact he looks like the generic plain template you’d start off with in Create-A-Wrestler mode in the old Smackdown games has something to do with it. And Gall fizzled out fast after the initial buzz from the massive win over CM Punk a few years ago. He’s 7-3 now and kind of floundering, alternating between wins and losses ever since 2017. Morono should probably be winning this really but you never know how Gall’s gonna look from one fight to the next.

 

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Louis Smolka vs Vince Morales. I’ll give it a look. I’ve always had time for Smolka’s fights ever since he had that belter against Paddy Holohan (remember him?) on one of the Dublin cards years ago. It was when the Flyweight division was still relatively new and most fans didn’t seem to be feeling it. That was one of the first Flyweight fights I remember getting universally praised. Bags of fun. Might fire up Fight Pass and revisit it soon actually. He’s been a bit up and down since. He had a 4 fight losing streak immediately followed by a 4 fight winning streak and has flitted between Ws and Ls in his last 4 fights. Pretty much always fun to watch though. He’s coming off a TKO win over Jose Alberto Quinonez in his last fight. It’d be nice to see him string some wins together now. My memory is hazy on Morales but he’s 10-5, has wins over Aiemann Zahabi and Drako Rodriguez but he’s 2-3 in his last 5 so not the best of form.

 

And that’ll do. 

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Edited by wandshogun09
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Great write up as always.

This card is completely stacked for a fight night show. Morono vs Gall surely is going to be on the main card, both are name fighters and Gall is always exciting to watch in my opinion, win or lose. Now that the Bam Bam fight is off, this has to get bumped up surely? 

I can't remember the last time I thought a pre-lim fight on a fight night card was too good for the prelims so that just shows how strong of a card it is.

I have Font winning in the main event, I'm of the opposite opinion to you Wand as I think Aldo is on the slide a little bit. His win against Chito Vera was impressive but I think the last time he looked like the killer we used to know was his win against Moicano all the way back in February 2019. I'd love to be proved wrong though as like you said it is great to see him still around and we need to enjoy it while it lasts.

 

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