By: Jesse Donathan
The UFC returns to ESPN+ Saturday night, February 2nd as bantamweights Marlon Moraes (21-5-1) and Raphael Assuncao (27-5) collide in the main event. Both fighters are vying for an opportunity to face bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw (16-4), in their way oddly enough is flyweight champion Henry Cejudo who recently bested Dillashaw in a failed attempt to claim Cejudo’s 125-pound title. In the co-main event, former longtime featherweight champion Jose Aldo (27-4) faces Renato “Moicano” Carneiro (13-1-1) in a three-round 145-pound featherweight contest.
According to Bellator light heavyweight fighter and ESPN host Chael Sonnen stated via his January 31, 2019 Bad Guy Inc. YouTube video titled, “Jose Aldo said publicly what a lot of fighters say privately…” Aldo was offered the main event slot but declined, preferring to take a three-round fight over a lengthier five round war of attrition. Sonnen would go on to add, “Jose has been the first one to put his foot down and push back and a lot of the fighters are going, ‘hey, this is weird, why are we doing that?’ Why do we have to go on for 70% longer?”
Aldo has had his problems with cardio in the past, with his tendency to put a high pace on his opponents the very real possibility of gassing out can have the effect of changing game plans and the way fighters approach the fights. Without an additional two rounds to worry about, Aldo has more freedom to practice his particular brand of violence which has served him well throughout his legendary career. Considered by some to be the greatest featherweight of all time, anytime you get a chance to watch Aldo compete the very real possibility of a stoppage exists win or lose making him a perennial fan favorite.
Renato Moicano has other plans however, with a lengthy, piston like jab the 5’11” Moicano enjoys a 75-inch reach, a full five inches greater than the 5’8” Aldo. Fighting tall and long will be the keys to victory for Moicano, something easier said then done against an opponent like Jose who is great at closing the distance and with deadly kicks and offensive barrages. Aldo is the more experienced and technical fighter, but the years of consistently fighting some of the best fighters in the world have taken their toll on the once dominant champion. The 32-year-old champion has twice as many fights as his younger, 29-year-old opponent and that kind of mileage will begin to break down even the best of fighters. We will find out if Aldo has what it takes to turn back ‘Moicano’ Saturday night.