Aldo v McGregor: The clash of leg kicks against a left straight

It is now over a decade since Jose Aldo suffered his last MMA defeat, but that hasn’t stopped him being priced up as the underdog for his featherweight title defence at UFC 194 against Conor McGregor.

Ladbrokes are offering the top industry price of 11/10 on the Brazilian champion, with Irishman McGregor the 10/13 favourite.

Both men are naturally strikers and do their best work on their feet. McGregor is undoubtedly the most dangerous puncher, especially if connecting with his deadly left straight.

Being a southpaw, McGregor’s money shot is not one that many fighters have great experience of attempting to defend, while his is also slightly unusual as he doesn’t land it square, but more from an angle across the chin.

The challenger possesses a reach advantage of 4ins and throws the punch with a full extension. The fact he circles abnormally to his left to throw the punch is something for Aldo to consider.

Aldo is no poor puncher himself and has the advantage of having the quicker hands of the pair. He has won more fights by knockout in the featherweight division than any other UFC fighter in history.

Key for the 29-year-old is to continue his good habit of stepping into range and slipping his head to safety just before McGregor looks to counter.

If he does keep walking McGregor down, Aldo will also make it tougher for the challenger to plant his feet before attempting to land a big shot. It will additionally limit the prospect of a high left kick following the punch.

Another way Aldo could reduce the chances of McGregor landing his prized left straight is through the use of leg kicks.

Particularly against Urijah Faber and Kenny Florian, Aldo found great success with the leg kick and given that McGregor utilises a wide stance, he will find it hard to consistently defend such an attack.

Meanwhile, a few successful leg kicks may make McGregor nervous to be so aggressive on the front foot or potentially lose some power in his punches.

Picking a winner is exceedingly tough, with the fact that Aldo has been out of the Octagon for 15 months not making things any easier. This could either make him rusty despite taking part in regular training camps or stronger because of the lengthy period of time he has had to heal any long-lasting injuries.

Given that this fight looks as close to 50/50 as possible in the prelims, backing the champion to retain his UFC featherweight belt appears the best strategy at the prices.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.