Brazillian on Brazillian crime is set to take place in UFC 265’s co-main event at the Toyota Centre this weekend when “The King of Rio” Jose Aldo and Pedro “The Young Punisher” Munhoz square off in Houston, Texas.
A decade after making his UFC debut, Aldo was once argued to be the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet and the greatest featherweight of all time. Although Aldo’s historic run came to an abrupt ending in 2015, the 34-year old still finds himself amongst the elite in the bantamweight division.
Pedro Munhoz‘s UFC run began back in 2014 at 135 pounds, three weeks after Jose Aldo made his 8th consecutive featherweight title defense against another fellow Brazillian Ricardo Lamas. Since then, Munhoz has gone 9-5 inside the octagon and is hoping to take a huge step towards title contention on Saturday night at UFC 265.
Jose Aldo (29-7)
Born and raised in Brazil, the “King of Rio” played a huge role in the development of the UFC and is undoubtedly a future Hall of Famer in the company. But, at 34-years of age and currently 1-3 in his last four bouts, this could be the beginning or end to Aldo’s final run at a championship belt. His last shot came against Petr Yan after dropping a controversial split decision to Marlon Moraes back in December of 2019.
Although the former 145-pound champion was on a 2-fight losing streak, the fans were still enthusiastic about the performances. Losing to the eventual featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski in a competitive fight and dropping a split decision that most of the public felt the veteran should have got the nod, not many people complained when the UFC awarded the veteran with his first opportunity at bantamweight gold.
After Henry Cejudo announced his retirement, it was Petr Yan and Jose Aldo who were picked to fight for the vacant bantamweight strap at UFC 251. Aldo fought competitively for the first three rounds, even earning the second on all three of the judge’s scorecards. In the championship rounds, the Russian started to take full control of the fight before ending it late with vicious ground and pound late in the fifth.
Before the turn of the new year, Aldo would compete one more time against Marlon Vera. “Chito” was coming off of an impressive first-round TKO victory over the rising bantamweight contender and fan-favorite “Suga” Sean O’Malley. A loss for Aldo would mean four straight, most likely resulting in the loss of his job as well. In a close fight when standing, “Chito” looked sharp in the clinch and landed several heavy leg kicks throughout the 15 minutes of action. It was Aldo’s heavy body shots and takedown which lead to him controlling the back of “Chito” for most of the final round that secured a massive win and a subsequent callout of ex-bantamweight champion T.J Dillashaw.
Pedro Munhoz (19-5)
Munhoz entered the UFC at 10-0 on short notice against top-ranked bantamweight contender Raphael Assuncao where they fought to a unanimous decision and Munhoz tasted defeat for the very first time. Within the next four years, Munhoz would go 7-2(1) finishing five of his wins including the likes of Rob Font and Bryan Caraway.
Known for being incredibly complete in all areas, Munhoz would be a tough fight for most of the current top 10 in bantamweights’ extremely deep division. A black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Rubens Charles and Marco Barbosa, Munhoz is very comfortable no matter where his opponents take the fight. It wasn’t until his wild first-round TKO finish of former bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt that the fans were finally forced to take notice.
After 12 fights in the octagon, Munhoz’s only convincing loss came in his short-notice debut bout against Assuncao, with his other two losses coming via split decision against Jimmie Rivera in 2015 and John Dodson three years later. That was until he faced current UFC bantamweight champion, Aljamain Sterling, at UFC 238 in Chicago.
Munhoz had a tough time coping with Sterling’s unorthodox stand-up and speed which lead to a unanimous decision victory for the “Funk Master”. After over a year of waiting, Munhoz was scheduled to take on former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar in July of 2020. Three weeks before the bout was meant to take place, it was announced Munhoz was pulled from the card after testing positive for Covid-19. The bout was rescheduled for August and Munhoz would drop a very close split decision, losing back to back for the very first time in his career.
Both men are currently sitting in their mid-thirties and are both looking to make a final push for a shot at the title.
UFC 265: Aldo vs Munhoz Preview
As well-rounded as Munhoz is, Aldo has skills just as impressive. On the feet, both men are known to break down their opponents with powerful low calf kicks that cause significant damage the longer the fight goes. With the length advantage, Aldo should be able to keep his opponent at his range while Munhoz will be the one marching forward taking shots to give shots back as he has historically done in some of his past fights.
Aldo used a lot of his grappling in his previous fight which could benefit Munhoz if he himself is able to implement some of those grappling exchanges along the fence and take a lot of what “Chito” was doing in those positions. Aldo has tremendous anti-wrestling but with a brown belt in Judo, it would be wise for Munhoz to look for trips along the fence to get it to the canvas.
Both men have taken a considerable amount of damage throughout their careers, especially recently. With Munhoz leaning on his durability in his fights at times. Aldo will walk into the octagon with a five-inch reach advantage over his Brazilian counterpart that will play a huge role in how the fight will play out.
UFC 265: Aldo vs Munhoz Official Prediction: Aldo via Unanimous Decision