Rob Font deserving favorite over UFC legend Jose Aldo at Apex

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After a week off for Thanksgiving, the UFC heads into its last three productions of 2021 starting with UFC Fight Night from the Apex Center in Las Vegas on Saturday. Fourteen fights are scheduled featuring athletes from around the globe.

Many combatants on this card are somewhat unknown to the masses, but several well-matched bouts will excite those watching and draw my wagering attention. Let’s take a peek at a few.

Rob Font (-145) vs. Jose Aldo (+125), Bantamweight (135 pounds), main event

We’ve not only heard of Aldo, but we’re aware that at 35, he’s still a Top 5 fighter in a division lower in weight than the featherweight group he ruled for almost a decade.

Aldo brings dynamic experience, athleticism, cage savvy, cardiovascular capacity and guile into his 12th UFC main event. His attack revolves around black-belt ability in Brazilian jiujitsu and Luta Livre.

Aldo has been fluid on his feet and dominant on the mat against elite talent in the bantamweight and featherweight divisions, proven over his 18-year professional career. Aldo’s one concern may be his ability to endure a full 25 minutes at a frenetic pace. In previous battles, he has shown a propensity to ebb late.

Rob Font
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Font, the sixth-ranked contender, is a formidable, technical, fluid striker. He has earned his way into his first main event by defeating his past four opponents in dominant fashion.

Font’s fight game is primarily striking-based. He has earned a white mongkol in Muay Thai to go with his brown belt in Brazilian jiujitsu. Font will hold slight height, reach and youth advantages, but those are not pronounced enough to provide a tangible edge early. Late may be a different story, however. What I believe we can count on is that Font will want to fight Aldo standing.

I’m interested in Font’s ability to combat Aldo’s movement, devastating leg kicks and early striking quickness, for Aldo fires fresh early. Font will measure himself early, knowing his ability to take this fight past the middle of the third round will provide him great inspiration as well as leverage, for that’s when the speed factor changes.

The attrition brought on by years of epic battles may show on Aldo, as we’ve seen in some previous bouts. We know that when a fighter’s zip goes, it goes quickly. For aging fighters, when quickness, agility and stamina are foundational, time is no friend, but a foe.

Other than cardio, Aldo holds most measurable advantages in this bout in its early stages. It’s the latter stages when I believe most of the drama will unfold. If we see the same Aldo of the past couple of bouts, we have a live ’dog. Father Time, however, remains undefeated, and Aldo’s ability to compete with Font late in this bout is of real concern.

Font is a motivated athlete looking to earn what Aldo has possessed for some time. Font’s focus and ability to fire fresh are his advantages, but will that be enough to overtake a legend of the sport?

The pick: Pass pending weigh-ins.
Total for this fight: 4.5 rounds, Over -150.

Rafael Fiziev (-125) vs. Brad Riddell (+105), Lightweight (155 pounds), co-main event

Here’s a fight that should be held in a year or so because both of these elite athletes will be top 10 talents in this division — in time.

Both are deft strikers with a sturdy wrestling base, they’re similar in every physical measurable and they know each other from having rolled at the same gym in Phuket, Thailand. In fact, Riddell contacted Fiziev to discuss this bout before each took it.

In Fiziev, we have a kickboxer by background who has a blue belt in Brazilian jiujitsu. The 14th-ranked Fiziev’s offensive striking is matrix-like and surpassed only by his ability to slip, slide and evade incoming strikes with brilliant defensive movement.

The one glaring issue with Fiziev, who grew up in Kyrgyzstan, is his last performance, when the glimmer of his momentum was tarnished by his losing his cardio in the third round against Bobby Green.

The 12th-ranked Riddell is from New Zealand’s City Kickboxing gym but has trained in Phuket for years developing his game. Where Riddell has the advantage might be in his quickness, speed and footwork, for Riddell uses accumulation more in his favor while his opponent is more deliberate but perhaps a touch more powerful.

This fight is lined correctly because no one knows who will win, but anyone involved with MMA will stop what they’re doing to watch this 15-minute masterpiece, one that most everyone expects to occur standing but one in which I can envision Riddell taking Fiziev to the floor to steal a round or two.

This bout opened a dead pick ’em.

The pick: Riddell (+105)
Total for this fight: 2.5 rounds, Over -200.

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