UFC on ESPN+ 2 breakdown: Renato Moicano vs. Jose Aldo is pretty much a pick 'em

MMAjunkie Radio co-host and MMAjunkie contributor Dan Tom breaks down the UFC’s top bouts. Today, we look at the co-main event for UFC on ESPN+ 2.

UFC on ESPN+ 2 takes place Saturday at Centro de Formacao Olimpica do Nordeste in Fortaleza, Brazil. The card streams on ESPN+.

Point of interest: Jabs vs. counters

The co-main event on ESPN+ features a pair of Brazilian talents who find themselves both at a crossroads in their careers, as well as on a collision course when it comes to their styles.

Despite stepping onto the UFC scene with submissions being his forte, Renato Moicano quickly demonstrated that he was paying proper attention to all parts of his game – including his striking.

Steadily developing a muay Thai arsenal, Moicano can either stalk or stick and move, using hard kicks from both sides. Striking in combination when feeling in stride, the 29-year-old does increasingly better at punching his way in and out of the pocket.

Whether Moicano is coming forward or countering, his left hook-right cross triggers appear to be deeply rooted, committing to a response each time. That said, when Moicano does decide to plant and return, he is not beyond being touched himself.

Calvin Kattar was able to find success in timing right hands over the top of Moicano’s jabs before succumbing to too many leg kicks, which makes me curious as to how the young Brazilian’s style will stack up with a legend who is very familiar with the jab and it’s associated counters.

Enter Jose Aldo.

Commanding the cage with disciplined, technical footwork, we have seen Aldo, time and time again, steadily pressure his opponents into exchanges on his terms. Consistently keeping his feet beneath him, the Nova Uniao staple is seldom out of position, which in turn allows him to counter with conviction.

Displaying a solid sense of head movement, Aldo often slips and returns authoritatively with right hand-left hook counters or leg kicks. When pressing forward, the former champ traditionally has been known for his classic “Dutchie” combination, launching a left hook to the liver that feeds nicely into a right leg kick that could serve him well, considering his counterpart tends to lean on a shelling defense.

However, as many have noticed by now, Aldo has been reluctant to go to his leg kicks in recent years. If you listen to the Brazilian’s coaches and corner, then you will hear them telling their fighter to go to them sparingly, only encouraging Aldo to kick toward the end of rounds or the fight itself. And given the fact that Aldo seems to stay incredibly aware of opposition either trying to counter him or take him down, I will be curious to see his approach on whether or not he will want to open up his arsenal – at least early.

Point of interest: Opportunistic takedowns

Although each fighter has trended further and further away from their grappling strengths as their career has progressed, they both tend to keep late-round takedowns in their back pockets for frames that they (or their coaches) believe are tight.

Moicano, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, displays a decent level-changing shot that he’s not afraid to dust off in close rounds. Moicano also appears to be slick inside of the clinch when it comes to trips and foot-sweeps, which is probably the calling card of a childhood spent practicing judo. However, if Moicano intends on taking things to the mat, out-wrestling Aldo still appears to be one of the tallest orders this division has to offer.

With quick-footed demonstrations of agility being Aldo’s modus operandi in regards to his takedown defense, his athleticism continues on through his hips – a place from which the former champion generates a lot of his power – often shucking opponents off him from a multitude of positions.

Coupled with the offensive wrestling game that has seemingly died down in the recent years of his career, Aldo, too, could pose some surprising threats in this contest. And given the way his last few fights have gone, I would not necessarily be shocked to see Aldo take that path.

On the mat, each fighter will need to respect the other’s game no matter the position, as they both wield tight, transitional chops that they utilize well when it comes to either turning tides or staying safe. Unless one of them is able to sting to the other with a hard shot standing prior, then I ultimately have a hard time seeing either man falling to submission.

Point-scoring attempts, however, will remain a live threat throughout.

Point of interest: Odds and opinions

The oddsmakers and public seem to be steadily fading the legend, listing Moicano -140 and Aldo +120 as of this writing.

Given the rise and hype (deservedly so, by the way) of Moicano, I can understand why he is being favored here. Since moving shop to American Top Team in the States, the young Brazilian has taken his skills to another level, showing improvements each time out. And despite my official pick, I believe that Moicano probably beats Aldo nine times out of ten (regardless of this fight’s outcome) should they meet up even just eight months down the road, due to said fight-to-fight progressions.

However, the fact that Aldo demonstrated that flames still fuel him as a fighter in his last outing against Jeremy Stephens, I suspect the former champ will provide a perfect litmus test for Moicano in a fight that I have lined at pick ’em odds.

It can be easy to look at how Aldo did against a frame like Max Holloway’s and then begin to compare and contrast with Moicano, although I would argue that – aside from obvious attributes like length and distancing – the two are much different fighters stylistically.

Moicano shares the ability to be able to enter and exit smoothly off of his length (which may, in turn, be enough to land his shots), but I suspect we will see the young fighter’s durability and composure tested. Aldo, particularly in these latter stages of his career, has put a heavier emphasis on his boxing abilities – moreover, his returns off of slips and fakes.

Unless Moicano shows he can land his jab early and often on Aldo (who does tend to eat more lefts than rights due to his habit of downward parrying), then I see Aldo able to manage leg-kicking traffic, while still using right hands over the top of jabs and underneath the shelling sensibilities of his younger counterpart. And with the former champ only having to worry about three rounds of output (as opposed to his usual five), I suspect we see an even looser Aldo inside the cage, using his veteran savvy to secure a decision, should he not find a stoppage first.

Prediction: Aldo by decision

For more on UFC on ESPN+ 2, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie

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