Jose Aldo (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

Toe-to-Toe: UFC 212 Preview and Predictions

The Ultimate Fighting Championship returns to Rio de Janeiro on Saturday, June 3, for UFC 212. The fifth pay-per-view offering of the year will be the sixth event held at the Jeunesse Arena, and the first since UFC 190.

The return to Rio de Janeiro is headlined by a featherweight title-unification bout between current UFC featherweight champion José Aldo and interim titleholder Max Holloway. The tangled web of titles in the featherweight division ends when the UFC plays host to two of the very best fighters in the sport, regardless of weight class.

Aldo won the UFC interim featherweight title when he ran through former champ Frankie Edgar with relative ease at UFC 200. Following a series of unexpected events in the fall out of Daniel Cormier’s injury prior to his UFC 206 main event, the undisputed featherweight champ Conor McGregor was stripped of his title to make room for another interim belt. Aldo was promoted to the undisputed champion despite his 2015 defeat at the hands of McGregor. The shuffling opened up an opportunity for Holloway to fight former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis for another interim featherweight title in the main event of UFC 206 in December. Holloway went on to defeat Pettis to earn his 10th straight win and secure his much-deserved shot at the current featherweight king.


Two of the world’s best female strawweights collide in the co-headliner of the evening, when former title challengers Claudia Gadelha and Karolina Kowalkiewicz do battle. Gadelha was a focal point in the UFC’s last trip to the HSBC Arena at UFC 190, where she was able to topple former No. 1 strawweight Jessica Aguilar. Gadelha gets another chance to shine in front of the Brazilian crowd when she welcomes Poland’s Kowalkiewicz to Brazil for the first time.

The pay-per-view main card features a theme of sorts, as the Brazilian faithful are treated to a series of Brazil-versus-the-world match-ups. Former UFC light heavyweight champ Vitor Belfort looks to go out on a win when he takes on veteran Nate “The Great” Marquardt. Fists will fly when Brazilian prospect Paulo “Borrachinha” Henrique Costa clashes with middleweight striker Oluwale Bamgbose. In the main-card opener, the always exciting Erick Silva takes on the Hawaiian slugger Yancy Medeiros.

The evening’s preliminary headliner features the debut of former World Series of Fighting bantamweight champion Marlon Moraes. The Brazilian rides a 13-fight winning streak heading into his first walk to the Octagon against perennial contender Raphael Assunção.

The action kicks off with three prelim bouts on UFC Fight Pass at 6:30 p.m. ET. The remaining four preliminary bouts take place on Fox Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET. Then, it’s off to pay-per-view for the main card at 10 p.m. ET. Combat Press writers Bryan Henderson and Zach Aittama break down the card in this edition of Toe-to-Toe.

Max Holloway has been on a three-year tear through the UFC’s featherweight division. Now, after 10 straight wins, he’s finally the interim champion. Can he keep this run going in the title-unification match with José Aldo? Is Aldo still a dominant champion capable of turning away anyone not named Conor McGregor?

Henderson: Aldo’s aura of invincibility took a hit when McGregor dropped him and took his title, but the Brazilian hasn’t lost to anyone else since the early days of his career. He even turned around and won a five-round fight against Frankie Edgar to claim one of two interim UFC featherweight titles (it later became the official belt). The fact that we have had two interim belts so recently in one division just proves how out of control the UFC is about crowning champions, but I digress. The point is, Aldo is back at the top of the mountain and the 30-year-old still appears to be at the top of his game.

Holloway can’t be counted out, though. The Hawaiian fighter did lose three of his first six Octagon outings, but he’s really turned into a stud competitor over the last three years. His hit list includes submissions of Andre Fili and Cub Swanson, knockouts of Will Chope, Clay Collard, Akira Corassani, Charles Oliveira and Anthony Pettis, and decision nods over Cole Miller, Jeremy Stephens and Ricardo Lamas. Four of those men — Swanson, Pettis, Stephens and Lamas — are among the UFC’s top 10 in the weight class, and the others are all solid competitors. He even took McGregor the distance in their fight. The 25-year-old is destined to become an undisputed champion at some point in the future.

Holloway has been great at attacking the weaknesses of his elite opponents. Aldo’s a solid striker and grappler, but he can fade as the fight goes on. Holloway is persistent and can push the pace. If he can wear Aldo down in the early rounds, he might find a path to victory once the fight hits the championship rounds.

It’s possible. Do I think it’ll happen, though? No. Aldo’s still proven to be untouchable by anyone other than McGregor, so he deserves the benefit of the doubt as a still-dominant champion. The Brazilian’s hard leg kicks will chop away at Holloway’s legs and slow down the Hawaiian’s forward movement. It should be a great five rounds of action, but Aldo will still have the belt around his waist when the dust settles.

Aittama: Before I address my colleague’s statements and offer my own opinion, I just want to say that I really have to stop myself from writing more about this terrific fight. I could literally write a novella about the intricacies and technical beauty that makes this fight so great. No, I’m not joking, just ask my fellow writer how much fun he has cutting down my lengthy previews. So instead of typing 10,000 words on the subject, I’ll try to sustain from the technical and talk more about the implications and why everyone is so excited about this match-up.

Brilliance. This is the only word to describe Aldo’s last performance against Edgar. Aldo refrained from using his heavy leg kicks, thereby avoiding Edgar’s deadly takedowns and top control. Instead, the top pound-for-pound great used his boxing to systematically break down the former lightweight champion. As good as Edgar has looked against everybody else in the featherweight division, Aldo made him look silly on the feet. The Brazilian didn’t have to use any more of his tools than a jab, a straight right hand, and a left hook. Aldo defended the takedowns with ease and used a simple counter-striking game to dismantle Edgar over five rounds.

Holloway has been on quite the run since beginning his 10-fight winning streak, one of the longest in UFC history. The Hawaiian has looked better and better with each and every win. This progression has happened over time and against increasingly tougher competition. Holloway has really impressed with his improvements in both wrestling and grappling, but it is his striking game that has come leaps and bounds. He seems to have found the right mix of technical striking, pressure and attitude to bring the fight to all of his opponents in the striking department. Holloway used a calculated game plan to take out Swanson and Lamas. He even went so far as to drop his hands and wing punches with the dangerous Lamas in the final 10 seconds of a fight he was clearly winning. This type of warrior spirit and gusto from Holloway is why his confidence is at an all-time high.

“Where’s Jose Waldo?” — these were the words uttered by Holloway leading into and following his third-round knockout of Anthony Pettis to win the interim featherweight title on relatively short notice. Holloway has been asking for the fight with Aldo for some time now. The Hawaiian clearly believes he is ready to take on the best featherweight in the world. Although Aldo’s English is almost non-existent, he has stated he is ready to dismantle Holloway on Saturday night.

Aldo won’t have to worry about the threat of a takedown. Holloway has added some sneaky trips and takedown set-ups to his game, but he is taking on one of the greatest takedown defenders in MMA history, if not the greatest. Holloway is much better served using his size and reach advantage instead. However, it definitely won’t hurt Holloway’s chances if he feints and shows Aldo many different looks in his attack.

This is an incredible fight of the highest order. These featherweights are two of the best fighters in the UFC. Holloway’s confidence is not something to take lightly. However, Aldo takes this fight with his full array of offensive weaponry.

The evening’s co-headliner features two former women’s strawweight title challengers who came up short against reigning champ Joanna Jędrzejczyk. Does the winner of the showdown between Claudia Gadelha and Karolina Kowalkiewicz jump right back into a title fight with Jędrzejczyk?

Aittama: The short answer to the question is, no, neither women is likely to get the next shot at Jędrzejczyk. Gadelha and Kowalkiewicz are absolutely two of the best strawweight contenders in the UFC. However, both have lost to the champion in the past 12 months. Gadelha fared better against Jędrzejczyk, even dropping her in the first round and dominating much of the first two frames. The champion came back strong in the third round and took the decision victory with three dominant rounds to close out the title fight at The Ultimate Fighter 23 Finale. Jędrzejczyk dominated for almost the entirety of her five-round fight against Kowalkiewicz. The Polish contender was able to put Jędrzejczyk on one knee, but the shot didn’t do anything to stop the undefeated champion from defending her title at UFC 205.

If you read our preview for UFC 211, you’ll know I am very high on Gadelha. If not for Jędrzejczyk, she would likely be the woman holding the UFC strawweight belt.

Kowalkiewicz is a quality fighter with a solid striking and counter wrestling game. However, she has been exposed by fighters like Rose Namajunas and Mizuki Inoue in the past. Gadelha will offer a salacious offense in the early rounds, and it is likely Kowalkiewicz will be fighting against the clock as the contest unfolds. Gadelha has proven her skill level with wins over Invicta FC champions Ayaka Hamasaki and Herica Tiburcio, and former No. 1 strawweight Jessica Aguilar. It is not surprising to see Gadelha as a nearly a 3-to-1 favorite leading into this contest.

Kowalkiewicz is absolutely going to stay in the fight for the entirety of the contest, but it remains to be seen if she can match Gadelha’s output and pace. Gadelha’s striking has continued to improve as she has picked up win after win in the UFC, including arguably beating the champion in their first meeting in 2014. Kowalkiewicz entered the UFC undefeated, but she is about to face back-to-back defeats.

Gadelha will take control of the striking exchanges and open up her wrestling game. The Brazilian will put pressure on Kowalkiewicz from the opening bell. Gadelha picks up the win and moves closer to a third fight with Jędrzejczyk, even if it won’t be her next fight.

Henderson: Gadelha and Kowalkiewicz are stuck in the same predicament that many top UFC fighters face. They’re too good for the rest of the division, but not quite good enough to edge the champion. However, who else can stand as a credible challenger against Jędrzejczyk? The aforementioned Namajunas? She’s 4-1 over her last five fights, but she lost to Kowalkiewicz. Tecia Torres? Also 4-1 over her last five, but she lost to Namajunas. Michelle Waterson? She’s coming off a loss to Namajunas as well. OK, so let’s say Namajunas is it.

The champ has been busy cleaning out the division, and she really only has these three viable challengers left. Gadelha, Kowalkiewicz and Namajunas. Namajunas probably lands the next shot, but Gadelha and Kowalkiewicz are fighting for a shot at that winner — which will be Jędrzejczyk, of course.

Gadelha really has become Jędrzejczyk’s archrival. These ladies have had two intense battles, and the Brazilian is arguably the one fighter who has what it takes to beat the Polish champ. All she has to do is put it all together and not get winded in the process.

The problem lies in Gadelha’s conditioning. She always starts strong, but she fades as the fight progresses. This hurts her greatly against a fighter the caliber of Jędrzejczyk. However, Kowalkiewicz probably won’t prove quite as resilient. Gadelha’s strength and pressure should shine through and lead her to the victory.

If Gadelha wins, then the UFC has an easy pick as its next title fight after Namajunas presumably gets a shot. If Jędrzejczyk beats Namajunas, then the UFC can start turning the gears on hyping a trilogy fight. If Namajunas wins, then we get a fresh match-up between her and Gadelha. So, while Gadelha might not turn around and receive an immediate crack at the champ, she will likely be next in line.

Marlon Moraes, Brian Kelleher and Deiveson Figueiredo — do we need to know these names?

Henderson: There’s one name here that’s a no-brainer: Moraes. The Brazilian only lands here because this is his UFC debut, but he’s already a top-five bantamweight with more than 20 fights and a World Series of Fighting championship reign under his belt. The 29-year-old was an unimpressive 7-4-1 when he joined the WSOF, but he beat UFC vet Miguel Torres at the promotion’s inaugural show and quickly steamrolled his way to the title by his fifth WSOF appearance. He’s gone on to make five successful title defenses. His list of victims includes The Ultimate Fighter alums Josh Hill (twice) and Cody Bollinger, in a non-title affair, as well as solid prospects Josh Rettinghouse, Sheymon Moraes, Joe Barajas and Josenaldo Silva. The biggest question now is whether Moraes can make the leap to UFC-caliber competition. The promotion is throwing him in the deep end against contender Raphael Assunção in what appears to be the prelim-card headliner, so we’ll get a prompt answer to the question.

As for the other two UFC newcomers, the buzz isn’t quite at the Moraes level.

It’s taken the 30-year-old Kelleher 23 fights to finally crack the UFC roster, but he stumbled repeatedly as recently as the 2013-14 campaign when he lost four fights in a five-fight span across the Bellator and Cage Fury Fighting Championships promotions. Kelleher’s defeats came at the hands of prospects, including TUF alums Andy Main and Jeff Smith, plus future UFC mainstay Jimmie Rivera, but it still isn’t a great showing from someone who is now expected to meet high-level competition at the top tier of the sport. He did beat Ring of Combat stud Julio Arce on two occasions recently, so perhaps he has finally put it all together. The big problem, though, is that the UFC is sticking Kelleher in the cage with veteran Iuri Alcantara. That’s a huge leap for Kelleher, and he might not make it out of this one unscathed and under the employ of the UFC.

Figueiredo is an intriguing prospect who still has a lot to prove. “Daico” is undefeated through 11 outings, but he’s done all of his damage on the Brazilian regional circuit. He does have a stoppage win over the formerly undefeated Denis Araujo and he’s only gone the distance once. However, Araujo is his most accomplished opponent. Figueiredo meets Marco Antonio Beltran at UFC 212. Beltran still has an unassuming resume, but his 8-4-1 mark includes a three-fight winning streak inside the UFC’s Octagon. The streak was brought to an end by Joe Soto, but Soto is a former Bellator and Tachi Palace Fights champion. Figueiredo is a name to watch. If he can continue to issue stoppages in his fights, he’ll become a flyweight favorite under the UFC banner.

Aittama: Moraes is clearly the fighter with the most promise. The Brazilian has won 13 fights in a row on his path to being ranked inside the top 10 or just outside of it. Moraes doesn’t have a win over a ranked opponent, but his resume is littered with excellent fighters, including the aforementioned former WEC bantamweight champion Torres, upset king Tyson Nam and rising prospect Sheymon Moraes. He has also finished eight of those 13 wins.

To say there is excitement leading up to the debut of Moraes is an understatement. Many of the hardcore fans of this sport have been counting down the days for Moraes, as well as fellow newly signed WSOF champ Justin Gaethje, to debut inside of the Octagon. Moraes does have a tough task at hand against Assunção. The perennial contender was an unfortunate injury away from a potential title shot against Renan Barão. He was out for nearly two years before returning in a losing effort against fellow top contender T.J. Dillashaw. Assunção returned to the win column over top-10 bantamweight Aljamain Sterling in a closely contested bout earlier this year. This fight will absolutely tell us where Moraes is in terms of talent and ranking inside the stacked bantamweight class.

Kelleher makes his way to the UFC on an impressive six-fight winning streak. The ROC bantamweight champ holds two victories over current ROC featherweight titleholder Arce and a decision over newly signed UFC fighter Andre Soukhamthath. Kelleher has the skills to compete with the bottom of the UFC bantamweight division, but as is evident with the Moraes signing, the top of the division will be out of reach for the time being.

Figueiredo looked impressive in his run to the UFC. He toppled top fighters Rayner Silva and the aforementioned Araujo in his time with Jungle Fight. As with all prospects who have quick wins on the Brazilian regional circuit, only time will tell if Figueiredo can compete on the UFC level. However, his opponent, Beltran, is a better offering for his debut in Brazil. Unlike Kelleher, the UFC gave Figueiredo a beatable opponent.

Who’s the biggest winner at UFC 212?

Aittama: The featherweight title-unification bout at the top of the fight card has the greatest implications and biggest stakes on the line. The battle between UFC featherweight champion José Aldo and the interim titleholder Max Holloway is not only one of the best fights the UFC could have put on, but it could also produce the next challenger to the UFC lightweight interim title.

Let’s just get what we know out on the table. Conor McGregor is not going to fight in the UFC until he competes in the ring against undefeated boxing great Floyd Mayweather, Jr. Whether or not this is a fight that appeals to you, it’s a fact that the potential money involved is going to be far too good to pass up for the UFC, McGregor and Mayweather. The fight puts the UFC lightweight champ out until at least the proposed date in September, which means he is only likely to return to the Octagon in November or December. The UFC has already attempted to put together an interim UFC title because McGregor was scheduled to take an extended time off for the birth of his son. However, the fight, scheduled for UFC 209 between Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov, never came to fruition after the undefeated Russian was hospitalized in the days leading up to the proposed bout.

The absence of McGregor, the weight-cutting issues of Nurmagomedov, and no clear No. 3 contender at lightweight opens the door for the winner of the featherweight championship at UFC 212. Although Holloway could potentially move up to lightweight, Aldo has much more to gain with a win. If the Brazilian defeats Holloway on Saturday night, he will have beaten all five of the top-ranked fighters in the featherweight division. Viable challengers like Frankie Edgar and Cub Swanson have put together winning streaks, but Edgar has lost twice to Aldo in previous featherweight title challenges and Swanson was knocked out in less than 10 seconds.

So what should the UFC do with the interim lightweight title? I’m pretty sure I just laid out exactly why Aldo should fight for the belt. He has lost — a 13-second knockout courtesy of McGregor at UFC 194 — just once since 2005. The long-reigning champion’s career has been put on blast for the loss. However, 13 seconds is nowhere near enough time to find out who the better fighter is. Call it a fluke or a perfect counter hook, but McGregor beat Aldo. It’s time we see them fight again.

For sporting purposes, the UFC could make the rematch, but there is likely to be an excuse from McGregor that he killed Aldo in less than a 30-second commercial spot. If Aldo fights for the interim title, it not only helps to promote a potential rematch with the lightweight champ, but it forces McGregor’s hand to either relinquish his title (which the UFC doesn’t want) or make the biggest fight possible in the lightweight division.

So if Aldo gets by Holloway for his 20th win in his past 21 fights, the Brazilian great should be the fighter to take on No. 1 contender Ferguson for the UFC interim lightweight title. The interim lightweight title fight would be the perfect bout to headline UFC 216 in Edmonton, which currently doesn’t have a main event and is in the same month that the proposed McGregor/Mayweather bout is rumored to take place.

Henderson: My colleague brings up an interesting angle. If Aldo emerges with the victory over Holloway and the UFC opts to go in this direction, the Brazilian would indeed be a huge winner at UFC 212. However, UFC President Dana White has already set forth his doubts that McGregor will ever compete in MMA again after he gets a taste of a huge boxing payday.

The big winner is more likely the aforementioned Holloway. Win or lose, the Hawaiian finally gets his chance to claim the top spot in the division — for real this time, not with the asterisk label of “interim” attached to his belt — and cements his status as a member of the featherweight elite.

I have to admit I was a late convert when it came to Holloway. After his losses to Dustin Poirier, Dennis Bermudez and McGregor, Holloway seemed like a fighter destined to win a few and then lose a few. When he started fighting the Cub Swansons, Charles Oliveiras and Jeremey Stephenses of the 145-pound weight class, I was sure he’d stumble. He didn’t. Instead, he impressed. I definitely took notice, but it takes even more to get the casual fight fans to remember a name. If Holloway trounces Aldo, they’ll definitely remember. The same holds true if he goes to war with Aldo for five full rounds and either just edges the Brazilian or, worst case, drops the decision. The only way Holloway fails to leave a mark is if he is completely decimated by the champ, and I don’t see that happening.

This fight, more than any of his previous 10 victories, is the star turn for Holloway.

Who’s the biggest loser at UFC 212?

Henderson: Fans.

It’s not a bad card by any means, but there’s one name missing that has come up numerous times in association with this card that would have made it even better: Anderson Silva.

Silva was linked to Vitor Belfort for a rematch of their UFC 126 title fight, but that rumored bout fizzled. In more concrete terms, Silva was slated to meet Kelvin Gastelum before Gastelum was yanked after testing positive for marijuana. Two chances for Silva on this card, both slipping through the UFC’s hands. Now, the legend is busy raising a fuss about undeserved title shots.

Silva is no longer in his prime. He’s 42 years old and talking retirement. Yet, there probably isn’t a fan out there who’d mind seeing Silva fight the 40-year-old Belfort again after the highlight-reel knockout the legend delivered in their first meeting. Even a fight against Gastelum would give Silva a chance to show what he has left against a fighter on the rise. Remember, Silva just beat Derek Brunson in February, which is proof that the former middleweight king still has something left in the tank. It’s too bad the fans won’t get to see him at UFC 212.

Aittama: This card is light on Brazilian fighters with name value. Silva would have given the pay-per-view the extra bump it needed to get the casual fan interested. However, one of Brazil’s most popular fighters, José Aldo, is on the fight card. The event also features Brazilians Belfort, Claudia Gadelha, Erick Silva and Antonio Carlos Junior. If we include the savvy veterans and prospects on the undercard, then this event is filled with talented Brazilian fighters. This is the type of atmosphere that opens up the opportunity for a breakout performance from one of the lesser known fighters on the card.

What we are talking about is the opposite, however. The fighter with the most to lose on Saturday night is Karolina Kowalkiewicz. Gadelha is likely going to get past the talented Polish fighter in their co-headlining match-up. After entering the Octagon undefeated, Kowalkiewicz has suffered back-to-back losses that will set her title aspirations on the back burner for the time being. She has nothing to be ashamed of in her losing effort against dominant champ Joanna Jędrzejczyk. She was outmatched in the contest, but almost every fighter in the strawweight division would lose to Jędrzejczyk. The only fighter to test the champion in her career was Gadelha.

Kowalkiewicz is a skilled striker with a strong resume. However, Gadelha has the tools to take the fight to the 31-year-old. The Brazilian is the superior grappler, and her continued improvements in her stand-up game lends to the idea that she will have her hand raised on Saturday night. Kowalkiewicz could certainly prove me wrong if she can stay collected and look to land counters as Gadelha pushes forward. However, the likelihood Kowalkiewicz remains unscathed over 15 minutes is unlikely.

Gadelha has plenty on the line in this fight with a potential title shot still within her grasps with a win over Kowalkiewicz. If Kowalkiewicz cannot find a way to topple the No. 1 strawweight, she is likely three or more wins away from another chance at the title.

Which fight is the sleeper match-up on this card?

Aittama: This fight card is filled with potential exciting fights from the first preliminary bout to the main event. Finishes will be aplenty when the Brazilian faithful clash with their foreign foes.

The pay-per-view opener between Brazil’s Erick Silva and Hawaii’s Yancy Medeiros could really turn into a wild affair. Following the theme of the main event pitting Brazilian against Hawaiian, Silva and Medeiros are the perfect candidates to fill the opening slot on the main card. This slot is usually reserved for the potential “Fight of the Night” between two exciting fighters, a scenario that is certainly possible when the scrappy Hawaiian meets the all-out action Brazilian striker.

At one time in his UFC run, Silva was competing with the top fighters in the welterweight division. He racked up first-round victories over Jason High, Charlie Brenneman, Luis Ramos and Takenori Sato before going to war with top-10 fighters Dong Hyun Kim and Matt Brown. In both all-out wars, Silva had his opponent in a bad place. However, Kim and Brown were each able to make incredible comebacks to defeat the Brazilian by knockout. The losses didn’t deter Silva, who picked up first-round submission wins over title challenger Josh Koscheck and Mike Rhodes. Silva tasted defeated in back-to-back contests when he was bested in a split decision by top-10 welterweight Neil Magny and was brutally knocked out by Nordine Taleb. Silva was able to return to the win column in another “Fight of the Night” performance against Luan Chagas at UFC Fight Night 95. Silva’s run inside the Octagon has more dips and turns than the largest roller coaster on earth, but he has always been an exciting fighter just outside of the top guys in the division.

Medeiros has a few performance bonuses of his own. The exciting former lightweight made a successful move up to welterweight in his most recent outing against Sean Spencer at UFC 203. Medeiros has mixed it up with top lightweights Dustin Poirier, Jim Miller and Rustam Khabilov. However, he wasn’t able to topple the veterans on his way into the mix of contenders. The well-rounded Hawaiian does, however, have victories over Joe Proctor, Damon Jackson and John Makdessi in the past three years. Medeiros always brings the fight to his opponents, even if he doesn’t always walk away victorious.

This fight should kick off the pay-per-view right.

Henderson: This is an odd card where sleeper fights even reside in the pay-per-view portion of the lineup. While Medeiros and Silva have the potential to put on an entertaining fight, let’s not overlook middleweights Paulo Henrique Costa and Oluwale Bamgbose. Neither man has cracked the UFC’s middleweight top 15, but they are worth watching.

Costa is an overlooked talent in the division. The 26-year-old is undefeated through nine pro bouts. He’s a former Jungle Fight champion and already holds a UFC win over Garreth McLellan. What really ups the intrigue level, though, is his propensity for the finish. “Borrachinha” destroyed McLellan in just 77 seconds. He’s only had one fight where he hasn’t scored some form of knockout, but that fight ended in a submission. He’s never gone past the first round, either. This guy is a finisher. The only thing holding him back from a spot in the UFC rankings is his lack of fights inside the Octagon. The win over McLellan was great, but the UFC rankings panel would probably like to see Costa wail on a few more foes before granting him admission into the top 15.

Bamgbose hasn’t been quite as stellar. The Nigerian-born New Yorker has two losses on his eight-fight resume. First, he was stopped via strikes by Uriah Hall. Then, following a win over Daniel Sarafian, Bamgbose dropped a decision to Cezar “Mutante” Ferreira. Knockouts have been the name of the game for the 29-year-old, though. He stopped Sarafian in exactly one minute, accounting for his sixth first-round finish. Bamgbose scored five of those stoppages by way of knockout or technical knockout, and the one submission on his record was the result of punches as well. As a professional, the former Ring of Combat middleweight titleholder has never been out of the first round in his winning efforts. In all, he’s only been out of the opening frame once, in his decision loss to Mutante.

These guys are accustomed to handing their opponents first-round defeats. Bamgbose, though, has also been stopped by strikes in the first round. We could be in for a wild one-round affair that ends with a highlight-reel finish.

Pair this card with…

Henderson: A Hanalei Island IPA from Kona Brewing. Hawaii’s own Max Holloway is finally getting his shot at something other than an interim title. Celebrate the fight — and summer — with a nice little seasonal from the Hawaiian brewery.

Aittama: Churrasco, the Brazilian style of barbecue should be just what your Saturday night needs for a big UFC pay-per-view. Run to your local meat market and pick up some steaks, pork and chicken, and don’t forget the charcoal! There is nothing better than a well-seasoned, fire-roasted ribeye steak while watching two fighters pulverize each other. So get off the couch and pick up your supplies for this weekend’s exciting fight card, because summer is here.

Fight Picks

Fight Henderson’s Pick Aittama’s Pick
Main Card (Pay-per-view, 10 p.m. ET)
FW Championship: José Aldo vs. Max Holloway Aldo Aldo
Women’s StrawW: Claudia Gadelha vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz Gadelha Gadelha
MW: Vitor Belfort vs. Nate Marquardt Belfort Belfort
MW: Paulo Henrique Costa vs. Oluwale Bamgbose Costa Costa
WW: Yancy Medeiros vs. Erick Silva Silva Silva
Preliminary Card (Fox Sports 1, 8 p.m. ET)
BW: Marlon Moraes vs. Raphael Assunção Assunção Moraes
MW: Antonio Carlos Junior vs. Eric Spicely Spicely Carlos Jr.
BW: Johnny Eduardo vs. Matthew Lopez Eduardo Eduardo
BW: Iuri Alcantara vs. Brian Kelleher Alcantara Alcantara
Preliminary Card (UFC Fight Pass, 6:30 p.m. ET)
Women’s StrawW: Viviane Pereira vs. Jamie Moyle Moyle Pereira
WW: Luan Chagas vs. Jim Wallhead Wallhead Chagas
FlyW: Marco Antonio Beltran vs. Deiveson Figueiredo Figueiredo Figueiredo