Yan, who is currently the No. 3 ranked fighter in the official UFC bantamweight rankings, has gone 6-0 since he joined the UFC in 2018. His most recent outing ended in the third-round. He knocked out ex-WEC champion Urijah Faber in that December outing.
Aldo is the No. 6 ranked fighter in the 135-pound division, despite an 0-1 record at that weight. Aldo made his bantamweight debut in December. He lost that bout to Marlon Moraes via split decision.
Aldo earned the title shot because Henry Cejudo wanted to fight him. However, Cejudo retired after defending his title against Dominick Cruz in May. The UFC kept Aldo in the title fight after Cejudo’s retirement.
Aldo is on the back end of his career. His record in his past six outings is 2-4. Yes, he looked good in his wins, but both fights ended before the six-minute mark, so it’s hard to tell how Aldo will look at 135 if this fight gets into the championship rounds. The ex-champ struggled with weight cuts at 145. So there are some worries about cardio issues.
UFC commentator Joe Rogan said he believes Yan rises to the level of his competition right before Yan ran over former WEC champion Urijah Faber in December. Yan is fast, powerful, patient and has excellent technique.
Yan could score a knockout over Aldo. He has knockout victories in half of those outings. Beside Yan’s power, there is another reason to believe he could stop Aldo with strikes and that is that all three of Aldo’s career knockout losses have come since 2015.
I think Yan runs away with this one by decision. The only chance Aldo might have is if he can find the leg kicks that he used to devastating effect earlier in his career.
UFC 251 takes place Saturday, July 11 at Fight Island on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. The pay-per-view card streams on ESPN+ following prelims on ESPN and ESPN+ and early prelims on ESPN+ and UFC Fight Pass.