It will be a battle between MMA’s past and present, as Jose Aldo and Marlon Vera clash at UFC Fight Night 183. Taking place inside the UFC’s APEX Center, these two will look to put on an epic co-main event.
This could very well be a make or break fight for Aldo, who is currently on a three-fight losing streak. Trying to find his way within the bantamweight division, the former UFC featherweight champion faces someone in Vera who is looking to prove he belongs in the title scene at 135.
What can we expect from both men when the doors of the octagon are locked?
A legend in the business, Aldo’s world changed when he lost to Conor McGregor in 13 seconds at UFC 194 in 2015. Since then, the 34-year-old has gone 3-5. Losing to Max Holloway twice for the UFC featherweight title, Aldo recovered well with convincing wins over Jeremy Stephens and Renato Moicano. He would eventually lose to future champion Alexander Volkanovski before moving to bantamweight.
While he put on a valiant effort, Aldo lost to Marlon Moraes in his bantamweight debut. He impressed Dana White enough that he was set to face Henry Cejudo for the UFC bantamweight title, but had to back out. When Cejudo vacated the title, Aldo was picked to face Petr Yan for the vacant belt. Yan appeared to be too much for Aldo and would knock the Brazilian senseless until the referee called the fight off late in the fifth round. Now, Aldo is ready to show he still has some tricks left up his sleeve.
“I feel now like it’s the restart of my career,” Aldo stated to MMA Junkie. “I feel like it’s the first fight of my career… I’m not feeling any pressure because I always fight with great fighters. I just keep training hard and get ready for my next opponent. I’m not feeling any pressure.”
“What keeps me motivated is the victory. I’m training hard because I want to be a champion at my new division. That’s my motivation every day.”
At 28, Vera is looking to regain momentum. “Chito” was on a five-fight win streak with three KO and two submission wins from August 2018 to October 2019. He then lost to Song Yadong this past May in a barnburner to end his momentum. He would then rebound by beating another rising star in Sean O’Malley this past August via TKO.
Ranked 15th in the UFC’s bantamweight rankings, Vera believes he belongs in the top ten. A newcomer in the division, Aldo is ranked seventh. A loss could further remove him from another title opportunity. With a stacked division and a chance to stand out, Vera hopes that Aldo is ready for a war, figuratively and literally.
“This is probably the worst matchup for him,” Vera told MMA Fighting. “It’s just another day at the office for me. It’s a name, it’s Dec. 19, and it’s a f*ckin’ fight. When they lock the cage and after Bruce Buffer is out of the cage, I’m gonna go f*ckin’ fight my ass off. I’m willing to hurt this guy and I’m willing to take it to win. I’m not gonna shy away and, like the samurais say, I’m accepting death in order to achieve victory. I’m not f*cking around with that.”
According to OddShark, Aldo is the favorite, ranging from -155 to -160. The DraftKings Sportsbook also has Aldo at -150 compared to Vera’s +120. Perhaps that is because of Aldo’s defensive capabilities, with a 62% Significant Strike Defense compared to Vera’s 52%. Vera should not be overlooked, however. This is especially true considering he has 3.70 significant strikes landed per minute and an accuracy rate (48%) that is higher than Aldo’s (3.48 and 44%, respectively).
The UFC’s last card before 2020 comes to an end looks like one that fans will remember for a long time. This specific bout could determine where Aldo stands with today’s fighters, while Vera faces his toughest opponent to date. By the end of the night, both could have everyone standing on their feet.