This fight is most likely going to be the biggest in the history of the FW division. We have one of the sports most dominant, longest reigning champions facing off against a hugely charismatic challenger, with both men having shown a penchant for the spectacular. With all of McGregor's bravado, slew of highlight reel finishes, and the UFC shoveling coal into the furnace of his hype train like a methed-out Casey Jones, it's easy to forget that he is the least accomplished of Aldo's challengers thus far. It's also easy to see why a lot of spectators feel that this is irrelevant. Jose Aldo has dominated the featherweight division since it was still part of the WEC. His 8-second Tony Jaa-esque flying-double-knee KO against Cub Swanson planted him firmly in the MMA community's consciousness and his subsequent devastation of incumbent champion Mike Thomas Brown and 5 round battering of the origional featherweight superstar solidified his claim to both the 145 pound crown and perpetual placement on P4P lists. Ever since, he has continued fighting and usually dominating the finest opponents the UFC can throw at him, rarely showing any sign of weakness. The lone caveat in that statement is his nearly disastrous performance against Mark Hominick (incidentally, one of his less heralded adversaries) in which he followed a dominant opening 15 minutes with a complete melt-down in the championship rounds which nearly allowed the challenger to walk away with a draw (which most observers felt would have been the right call). This rightfully opened up conjecture regarding Aldo's cardio and heart at the time, and whether a string of injuries had simply aged him before his time. However subsequent 5 round thrashings of vaunted contenders such as Kenny Florian and prolonged back and forth wars such as his rematch with Mendes interspersed with some of his vintage KO's have rebutted all those questions and pretty much proven that night with Hominick to have been an anomally. While Aldo has a black-belt in BJJ and has shown occasional flashes of brilliance on the ground, the base of his game is his stand-up. Very few fighters at any weight class have the combination of speed, power, versatility and technicality that Aldo brings to the table. His leg kicks--among the best in MMA-- are always front and center and serve both to impede his opponents movement and set up his more KO orientated strikes down the road. His footwork his excellent both on offense, cutting off angles and keeping in prime punching position almost constantly, as well as defense rarely allowing his opponent to push him into unfavorable territory or giving clean punching opportunities while efficiently countering himself and showing top-notch takedown defense to boot. Perhaps most important factor for Aldo in this fight is his experience. Bear in mind, the champion is still only 28 years old but has already fought a who's who of his divisions best fighters as well as a former LW champion and a two time challenger from that division as well. He just persevered through the toughest fight of his career in the form of elite wrestler turned devastating puncher Chad Mendes. In all likelihood, Jose Aldo right now is the best he's ever been and perhaps ever will be. The core of McGregor's game is his absurdly powerful striking. What differentiates him from every other heavy-handed would be contender is the unique manner in which he implements it. McGregor's liberal use of karate and tae kwon do kicks give him a much longer effective striking range and wider array of attack angles than the vast majority of MMAists--and these are not wild, flashy, haymakers. He has a superb sense of timing and accuracy when throwing these traditionally low-percentage attacks. On top of that, he has alarming power in his hands. The way his opponents react when getting hit with a casually flicked-out jab is typical of what you see when most fighters land a flush overhand or hook. That is in no way an exaggeration. Heads snap, eyes roll, and knees buckle. It's possible that other fighters in the division may "top out" with higher power in their best punches, but shot for shot, blow for blow, nobody in the division packs more blunt force into each strike than Connor McGregor, not by a long shot. He ties it all together with an odd not-quite-fast-but-certainly-not-slow "stalking" pace that he explodes out of, throwing sudden violent punch-kick flurries then settles seamlessly back into. While he's not truly the fastest of the fast at featherweight, he is definitely quicker than your average fighter and his keen sense of timing, odd angles, and sudden/frequent pace changes make him extremely difficult to time or predict and his power leaves precious little room for error. The other side of the coin is that McGregor's low-handed, wide-footed stance and constant aggression makes him very hittable. Siver and Poirier were both able to land a number of clean counters against "Notorious" in their abbreviated encounters, but were unable to even phase him. Whether this was more due to a granite chin on McGregor, or their own lack of KO power is unclear but is a question that the champion will surely look to answer. Siver was also able to consistently find the Irishman's legs with kicks, even managing to sweep him on two occasions. Though ultimately fruitless for Siver, it is something worth keeping in mind when you consider how notoriously devastating Aldo's leg kicks are, and that they are a fundamental lynch-pin of his game. Also of note: The weakest opponent Aldo has fought in the last several years (KZ) holds a highlight reel finish over the best opponent McGregor has faced in his entire career (Poirier). In the end, I feel that while McGregor is no dead-horse or even necessarily a longshot in this fight, the idiosyncrasies of his offensive style play into Aldo's strengths and the difference in experience against top flight opponents is severe. I could very well see Connor rattling Aldo early on and just continuing to lay it on him until the ref calls it, but I think the more likely scenario is a fight which is tightly contested early on and that sees both men land heavy leather, but that Aldo steadily begins to take over as the fight progresses. My pick is Aldo by TKO late in the 5th.