Top MMA News Breaks Down UFC 156: Aldo vs. Edgar
Fight fans have been waiting a while for a true super fight. The idea of two of the best pound for pound fighters in the world going up against one another is always an interesting prospect. The last time the UFC was able classify a fight as a ‘super fight’ was exactly four years ago. In January of 2009, Georges St. Pierre put a beating on BJ Penn in what was a very exciting Champion vs. Champion fight.
The much anticipated Superbowl weekend event will take place February 2nd at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. The much anticipated headliner will be between UFC Featherweight champ, Jose Aldo, as he introduces former UFC Lightweight champ, Frank Edgar, to the division. A slew of big name bouts will be on the card as Light-Heavyweights Rashad Evans and Antonio Rogério Nogeura will clash. There is no forgetting the Heavyweight tilt between two of the biggest in MMA as Alistair Overeem returns after a one year suspension to take on Antonio ‘Big Foot’ Silva. The five main card bouts will air live on PPV. There will be four preliminary bouts that will air live on Sportsnet in Canada and FX in the US. The remaining two preliminary bouts will air live on Facebook.
UFC Featherweight Championship Bout
(c) Jose Aldo (21-1) vs. Frankie Edgar (15-3-1)
Two of the top five pound for pound fighters in the world will finally clash. The UFC has been aggressively pursuing several big name fights with two guys in different weight classes, most of which have revolved around Anderson Silva. Fortunately, the best Featherweight in the world has been awaiting his opportunity to take on arguably the best Lightweight in the world for a while. Jose Aldo will have his chance to prove that his success will not be within a single weight class. Frankie Edgar is looking to prove the exact same thing.
Aldo last fought a year ago against the undefeated Chad Mendes. He consistently stuffed his takedown attempts while landing powerful combinations. He proved that a physically dominating wrestler will not have his way against him. Aldo’s brilliant performance was his fifth straight title defense against top competition. Although Edgar is coming off of two losses to Lightweight champion, Benson Henderson, they were both extremely close and controversial bouts. That’s what has made it acceptable that Edgar fell into an immediate title shot in a different division.
The skill sets of both are consistent. They never show too much change in their game but always manage to impress. Edgar is amazing at getting in tight as he proved throughout his career against bigger fighters. Aldo will be faster than what Edgar is used to and his stellar takedown defense allows him to keep the fight upright, where he can utilize his vicious Thai kickboxing. The only question about Aldo’s game is his grappling. The only time he spent time on his back was against Mark Hominick, where he looked exhausted and beat up in the final round of their bout.
Fortunately for Jose, the biggest weakness of his opponent is his specialty. Edgar gets hit quite a bit. Gray Maynard showed that landing a good punch could leave him rattled for a while. Henderson showed that if you throw low kicks, they will land and slow Edgar down. One thing neither was able to do is throw and land combinations. Aldo throws quick punches to land low kicks. He is one of the few offensive strikers that looks to do damage everywhere. This is an extremely interesting bout but Aldo is just so good. He should be able to overcome a takedown or two to retain his title.
Prediction: Aldo via Unanimous Decision
Rashad Evans (17-2-1) vs. Antonio Rogério Nogueira (20-5)
After a rough performance against Jon Jones, Rashad Evans returns to take on Antonio Rogério Nogueira. Both fighters have been around for a long while but it is evident that Evans has went up against the best competition in the world; even more so than the man known as Lil’ Nog. Both are in need of a win, considering what could be at stake. If Nogueira wants to continue moving up the ladder at 205, a win against Evans would be the best of his career.
Evans has been rumoured to be the next potential opponent for Anderson Silva if he gets a win against Nogueira. He has several advantages in this fight that can lead to that title shot. Evans has become one of the quickest strikers in the division. He is very light on his feet and has an excellent mixture of kicks and punches. He uses his offensive wrestling very well with his striking but when he is not doing well on the feet, he begins to telegraph his takedowns which can give his opponents the edge.
If Nogueira is able to use good head movement and keep his distance, he can use his boxing to test the chin of the former Light-Heavyweight champion. Nogueira, like his brother, is known for his Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He has not been able to show it off very much in the UFC. He has great sweeps and good control whether he is on the top or the bottom, however, he does not seem to threaten very much when he is on his back. That is why Evans should be able to control this bout wherever it goes and get the decision win.
Prediction: Evans via Unanimous Decision
Alistair Overeem (36-11) vs. Antonio Silva (17-4)
It always seems to be exciting when two massive Heavyweights collide to settle a heated rivalry that has seemed to stem over from their Strikeforce days. This is a fight that many have been expecting to eventually happen for a while now and Antonio Silva has let it be known that he has wanted to fight Alistair Overeem. These are two of the biggest and strongest guys in MMA and this should be a brawl.
Silva is coming off a very impressive upset victory over Travis Browne where he landed some excellent punches to get the finish. Against Overeem, he will not want to just stand and bang with him because of his massive chin and Overeem is the type of guy that will find it. His biggest advantage is top position on the ground. Silva is an absolute monster anytime he gets the fight down. His BJJ top game is some of the best in the sport.
The issue is that Overeem might be far too strong to allow the fight move to the ground. He has underrated grappling because of his recent success in kickboxing. Overeem is not exactly known for his speed but he will be the much faster striker. Silva has shown many flaws in his stand up and although he had a fairly impressive showing against Browne, Overeem is a dominating striker and will likely be able to win by landing a single perfect shot.
Prediction: Overeem via KO Round 1
Jon Fitch (24-4-1) vs. Demian Maia (17-4)
One of two things will happen when Jon Fitch takes on Demian Maia. Either both fighters will end up avoiding the ground with one another and put on a striking display or the fight will hit the ground and it will be a back and forth battle for dominant positioning. Ever since he made the move to Welterweight, Maia has just been physically dominant. He is the arguably the best BJJ practitioner in MMA and he will need his dominant grappling against a guy like Fitch.
Back in October, Fitch put on a great show against prospect Erick Silva in a Fight of the Night performance. The fight was a very exciting back and forth before Fitch took over in the third and completely dominated. He has proven to be nearly impossible to submit but Maia is so crazy on the ground that Fitch may want to avoid grappling. It is in his best interest to keep this fight upright for once, at least until Maia begins to slow down. Maia has always had cardio issues and struggles to mix up his abilities, which is why he greatly relies on grappling.
This is a very even bout and could be one of the most exciting grappling displays of the year; however, if Fitch is able to keep the fight standing and slow down Maia, he can eventually dominate from top position late in the second and throughout the third. Though we are all hoping for a great grappling display, stylistically, these two look to impose their will more than put on a show.
Prediction: Fitch via Unanimous Decision
Joseph Benavidez (16-3) vs. Ian McCall (11-3-1)
Both Joseph Benavidez and Ian McCall are coming off of a loss to Demetrious Johnson in their last bout. Neither looked particularly impressive but they are arguably top three in the division either way. McCall did not perform well under pressure and missed out on a huge opportunity. He is a phenomenal wrestler but seemed to struggle against the speed of Johnson and could not move in tight enough to get the takedown. His issue against Benavidez may not be so much the speed, but the strength of the Team Alpha Male product.
Benavidez is a great wrestler, and he will likely want to use that for defensive purposes against McCall. This is an interesting bout and the winner will likely get another shot at Johnson. Benavidez went into their bout as a heavy favourite, only to get lost in the pace of the fight. If Benavidez goes back to turning fights into a battle of positioning, he should be able to get past McCall and get another shot at Johnson. McCall will need to circle away from the power of Benavidez and not allow himself lose control. Benavidez may just be too good. Benavidez should be able to frustrate McCall in forcing him to make a mistake as he capitalizes and gets the submission victory.
Prediction: Benavidez via Guillotine Choke Round 2