Down with the king.
With UFC 193 in the books and one of the biggest upsets in the combat history recorded, it’s time to look forward to the next numbered UFC event featuring a main event that fight fans have been salivating over for quite some time now. The bout between Featherweight Champions Jose Aldo Jr. and Conor McGregor is one that’s perhaps even more intriguing than the Ronda Rousey/Holly Holm clash from this past weekend.
Why would I say such a thing? Well, first is the bad blood and animosity that has built up between the two fighters over the last year. Second is the fact that fans and pundits want the question that has been hovering in the air to be answered once and for all: just how good is Conor McGregor?
If you were asking me, I’d say he’s pretty damn good, perhaps even good enough to defeat Aldo in their December 12th meeting. The thing about that statement is we won’t know until the fight actually happens. Jose Aldo has already proven to the MMA world that he’s the featherweight king for a reason. He has demolished everyone in his path since joining the Zuffa company under the WEC banner and continues to put on spirited performances in the UFC. “Scarface” is an absolute monster to deal with on the feet and the ground and should be the betting favorite going into the match up. But Conor McGregor has that special mix that could end up brewing the perfect storm just in time for UFC 194. But what exactly is that special blend and how can he utilize it in his favor?
Coming into their December 12th match up, McGregor is sure to enjoy both a size and reach advantage over his opponent. Aldo has been men larger than himself before, but what makes this different is the kind of fighter McGregor is. McGregor knows how to use his size and reach, firing long range kicks to get his opponents to either defend or counter. If they defend they go into a defensive shell, but if they choose to counter it will play right into the Irishman’s game. Conor is a counter puncher at heart and many of his flashier techniques do well to open up counter opportunities when his opponent chooses to move forward. Couple that with his proficiency of the long range left straight and it could prove to be the best tool against the reigning featherweight king.
If McGregor hopes to beat Aldo then he’ll have to rely heavily on his talents of timing and defense. When Conor is at his best he’s aggressively seeking counter opportunities, drawing his opponents to attack with a high output of his own. He then uses his great timing to catch his adversaries coming in and closes the show. It’s what made Anderson Silva so great after all and it’s the same with McGregor. Aldo has more an explosive style than Conor so “The Notorious” will have to do his best to use not only good head movement, but good distance control as well. Since traditional martial arts has played such a major influence in his game, Conor should lean on the ethos of striking without being hit if he hopes to come out with a victory. Aldo is the faster of the two thanks to some fast twitch muscle fiber, so I suspect Conor to take some strikes throughout the contest, but McGregor can diminish the damage tremendously by controlling the distance with footwork and jabs when Aldo chooses to come forward. I suspect checking leg kicks will also be a major factor in this bout as well. Conor can’t afford to take damage from Aldo’s kicks particularly at the beginning of the fight, which means plenty of training to check the inside and outside leg kicks.
The biggest X-Factor present in this fight is the mental state of both competitors. Aldo being angry and overly aggressive could easily cost him. Conor being overly confident could also prove to be his undoing. In order to beat Aldo he’ll need some of that confidence, but at the same time remain diligent in his defense and striking prowess. He’ll also have to look out for the rare Aldo take down and if he is taken down, hop back up to his feet as soon as possible. Whoever can win that mental game could be the one to walk away with the title.
Who do you think will win, Jose Aldo or Conor McGregor? Let us know in the comments and forums. Also, be sure to follow Generation Iron MMA on Facebook and Twitter.