Back in May of 2016, Petr Yan flew out to the world famous Nova União MMA gym in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to train with the likes of Jose Aldo and Eduardo Dantas. At the time, ‘Junior’ was seeking redemption from his 13 second loss to Conor McGregor and was due to rematch Frankie Edgar at UFC 200.
Yan had only competed six times as a professional at the time but gained invaluable experience training with some of Brazil’s best fighters. Speaking to MMA Fighting, former Bellator bantamweight champion Dantas, reflected on his four week stint training with the Russian UFC bantamweight contender.
“He trained a lot with us, especially me, because we’re both bantamweights. [Yan] trained boxing and kickboxing, I haven’t seen him do much of ground game in the gym, but this kid always showed a lot of heart. He came from a different team, a different country, didn’t speak our language, but came here and put on great training sessions. [Yan] was always there to train, always available.”
Dantas also spent his time outside of the gym with Yan and got a good read on the Russian championship hopeful. Eduardo refused to detail the specifics of their sparring sessions; however, he would say that he believes that Aldo’s striking abilities are being overlooked, going into UFC 251.
Underestimating Aldo Is A Huge Mistake
“Based on the training I had with Yan and Aldo — we’re obviously in a different time now, four years later — you can’t compete them technically. I’ve seen so-called specialists say that Yan’s boxing and kickboxing are better than ‘Junior’s’. I think that’s a huge mistake because if you really analyse their boxing, it’s completely different.
“If you stop and look at the strikers they have fought, it’s completely different. If Yan fought one guy that is tough on the feet, that’s already too much. You can’t compare. Yan might be younger, he’s coming fully motivated, he trains really hard, but you can’t compare them technique-wise. To me, ‘Junior’ is way more complete.
“And about [them] training [together], you probably already know how it must have gone, right? Not to mention that Aldo was way heavier and way stronger. Yan weighed around 148 pounds when he came here, he was always skinny. You can’t compare.”
Although Aldo lost his bantamweight debut to Marlon Moraes via a razor close split decision at UFC 245, he still received the call to fight for the title after Dana White accused judges of making a bad call. He was originally scheduled to face Henry Cejudo at UFC 250 last month in Brazil. However, COVID-19 travel restrictions left him stranded in Brazil. ‘Triple C’ went on to defeat Dominick Cruz, before announcing his retirement.
With two belts now vacant, Aldo and Yan will now face off in the Octagon for the 135lbs title at UFC 251 on Fight Island. Dantas predicts that his Brazilian training partner can finish his younger opponent on the feet.
“It’s a good matchup because Yan and Aldo move forward the whole time. My hunch is Junior knocks him out in the second round. If he doesn’t knock him out, it would be five rounds of suffering for Yan, getting beat up a lot. Of course that Yan has great cardio and ‘Junior’ is rising… If I had to guess, I’d bet on ‘Junior’ by second-round knockout.
“[Aldo] stayed unbeaten for ten years, taking everyone down at featherweight with a really bad diet. He’s on a diet for the first time of his life now at bantamweight. He’s training more focused and eating way healthier. He went from water into wine. I’m not saying this because I’m his friend, I say this based on what I see in training, his cardio and his technique. It’s his destiny, he will be the bantamweight champion.”
Do you agree with Eduardo Dantas? Will Jose Aldo knockout Petr Yan at UFC 251?