The fight will be the first of two championship fights on the card, with the second being the main event rematch between UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard.
Jose Aldo versus Kenny Florian
Keys for the champion- Jose Aldo is one of the more complete fighters in MMA but like all fighters, his health is a key. Aldo appears much healthier for this fight than in his last bout with Hominick, where Aldo nearly passed out in a presser before the fight and apparently dealing with ongoing neck problems. Unfortunately for Florian, those issues appear to be resolved.
Aldo arguably possesses the most devastating leg kicks this side of K-1 and he pairs that with vicious knockout power in his hands. In Florian’s fight with Diego Nunes, Florian was dropped multiple times by the strikes of Nunes. Nunes, last KO was in 2007, 12 of Aldo’s 19 wins were by KO or TKO. This does not bode well for Florian. While Florian has never been knocked out, Aldo has the power to do it.
One thing to watch in this bout is whether Aldo decides to take this fight to the ground. Florian has spent a lot of time training his wrestling but so far, that has only shown through in his offensive wrestling and not his defense. With that said, Florian has often done the most damage with his elbows while in guard. So it may make more sense to keep this fight standing for as long as possible and only going to the takedown if Aldo finds himself in trouble.
Keys for Florian- Florian has tied Joe Riggs, and technically BJ Penn, for the most weight classes fought in. Of those weight classes, this is the second he will challenge for a title in. Florian has constantly worked to change his game and evolve to meet the needs of the game. Florian has always had strong BJJ and Muay Thai however. He will need that here. While Florian has developed an offensive wrestling game, Aldo has only been taken down twice since 2008, once by Mark Hominick and once by Jonathan Brookins.
Florian’s best opportunity is to weather what will be a brutal storm for the first few rounds. If Florian can do that, he can hopefully time Aldo’s kicks and look for a takedown. The only thing is that even on the ground Aldo is a handful. Florian just has to take what he can get against an opponent who is slightly better at the things Florian does best.
UFC President Dana White once said that Florian “chokes in big fights” and to be quite honest I think that is unfair and if I were Florian’s opponents in those fights that he “choked” in I would take offense more so than Florian should. If anything, Florian has suffered a fate similar to that of Rich Franklin and Forrest Griffin, where the fighters he has fought in those big situations are simply better athletically or skill wise. Florian is a very good fighter, like Griffin and Franklin, but in order to beat a great fighter he will have to have everything possible go right this Saturday.
More UFC 136 Pre-Fight Coverage:
- UFC 136 Preview: Sonnen vs. Stann, Guillard vs. Lauzon, and Garcia vs. Phan
- UFC 136 Pre-Fight Press Conference Video for “Edgar vs. Maynard 3″
- UFC 136 Preliminary Card Preview: Maia-Santiago, Pettis-Stephens, Facebook Prelims
- Countdown to UFC 136 Full Video for “Edgar vs. Maynard 3″
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