UFC 194 preview: Can Aldo ground McGregor?

On December 12th, two of UFC’s most feared fighters will finally lock horns in one of the most anticipated clashes of the year, if not in UFC history. Aldo and McGregor will battle it out for UFC featherweight championship title on the biggest stage, the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

UFC 194 preview: Can Aldo ground McGregor?

McGregor may be the bookies favourite to defeat Aldo, but the Brazilian hasn’t been defeated in ten years and has successfully defended his title on eight occasions.

Ciaran O'Flynn ( @ciaranoflynn2) from mmalatestnews.compreviews the highly anticipated clash.

This fight has been nearly a year in the making now with the first fight originally arranged for July 11. Unfortunately for UFC fans, Jose Aldo suffered a rib injury during training and was forced to withdraw. The Brazilian, labelled “the best pound for pound fighter the world has ever seen” by UFC boss Dana White, was replaced by Chad Mendes with just two weeks until the fight.

McGregor went on to defeat Mendes via second round TKO and in doing so he has cranked the pressure surrounding him and Aldo up a notch or three. With Aldo withdrawing from the fight back in July, it has given him more time to prepare for McGregor's unorthodox style of movement while also allowing the Brazilian time to come to terms with his opponents brash mind games.

Aldo has now had over 11 months of dealing with McGregor's trash talk and he has recently stated he is a lot more prepared, mentally, for McGregor this time around which is a big factor. Ask any coach or fighter in the world and they will tell you fighting is 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical.

Former UFC featherweight champion Urijah Faber spoke of how Aldo beat him and said mentality is key. “The most important thing in a fighter is his mentality. Do you really believe that you’re the baddest dude on the planet?”

McGregor, on the other hand, is the king of mind games and is brilliant at getting under his opponent's skin. The Notorious believes he has already beaten Aldo mentally and that on December 12 the inevitable will happen; Aldo will “crumble like they all do” and he will unify his UFC featherweight title. But what will happen when both men meet in the octagon?

McGregor will benefit instantly due to his size and having significantly longer reach than Aldo. McGregor wins this fight by keeping it on the feet. We have seen in previous fights the Irishman has incredible power in his hands. “I think we’ll look back on Conor McGregor’s style as a style that will revolutionize MMA striking as we know it,” said fighter Kenny Florian who lost to Aldo in a UFC 136 showdown.

McGregor has knocked out five out of the last six opponents. However, it's not just his hands that are dangerous. He also has the ability to hit you with incredible leg kicks generating serious power from his hips. Aldo's best chance of winning this fight is taking McGregor to the ground where we haven't seen McGregor truly tested.

Aldo is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and although he prefers to stand and exchange with his opponents, taking McGregor to the ground could be the advantage he needs to dismantle him. As well as his wrestling prowess, Aldo boasts explosive kicking power which McGregor will have to wary of.

This fight will be Aldo's first since August 2014 and you can only stay on top for so long. Scarface has been through a lot of wars, a lot of tough fights and there's only so much your body can take.

Training techniques and camps is another big factor coming into this fight. Aldo has come under major scrutiny in the past for pulling out of several fights due to injuries sustained while training. His training camps have often been labelled old-fashioned as a result in the sense the long sparring sessions eventually take their toll.

On the other hand, McGregor's mindset during training camps is keep the body sharp and the mind sharper. Along with his coach John Kavanagh, McGregor and the SBG team have gained a reputation for their advanced training techniques: “Upgrading the software without damaging the hardware”  is a slogan coach Kavanagh often refers to when describing the need to practice and perfect technique without hurting the body in the process.

This fight will be a very close, gritty encounter with neither fighter giving or asking for an inch. In the UFC nowadays, it’s no longer enough to be the biggest and the baddest. Preparation is key. This fight may well be decided by whichever fighter is better prepared before they step into the octagon on December 12.

Will Aldo’s devastatingly accurate and powerful kicks along with what many would call a superior ground game prove to be McGregor’s downfall? Or can the Notorious prove many of the doubters wrong and actually back up that trash talk again?

A pretty decent fighter formerly known as Cassius Clay once said: “It’s not bragging if you can back it up.”

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