Preview: UFC 156 Aldo vs Edgar
Just four days after the much-hyped battle between Anthony Mundine and Daniel Geale, the UFC will underline what a true “superfight” card looks like with UFC 156 “Aldo vs. Edgar”, where the featherweight title is up for grabs.
Not enough for you? Consider this; come Sunday at the Mandalay Bay Events Centre in Las Vegas, this fight card also features two former champions and two others who’ve fought for a UFC belt.
If former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar (15-3-1) can successfully make the transition to 145 pounds (66kg) he’ll join a distinguished list of two-division champions. That’s a big if, though. Standing in his way is featherweight belt holder José Aldo (21-1-0), a name constantly thrown up in discussions over the best pound-for-pound MMA fighter in the world.
Aldo hasn’t fought in over a year, while Edgar has had two hard-fought battles against current UFC lightlweight champion Benson Henderson within the past 12 months. While this is Edgar’s first featherweight fight, it’s also likely to be his first against an opponent of equal size.
Can Aldo, a wrecking machine amongst the featherweight ranks, handle Edgar’s grappling in the championship rounds when the former lightweight’s Phar Lap-sized heart comes to the fore? No doubt Aldo hopes to never find out – his vicious leg kicks have a tendency to nullify much footwork from an opponent.
Has Antônio Rogério Nogueira (20 - 5 - 0) upset Dana White at UFC HQ? “Little Nog” has lost two of his last three fights and having being rested since a December 2011 win over Tito Ortiz – now faces up to former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans (17-2-1). Rashad hasn’t been seen inside a cage since he failed to topple current light heavyweight belt holder Jon Jones, but his superior wrestling skills – and Nogueira’s mediocre takedown defence – could see the former champ back on the path to a title shot.
If it’s possible for an fighter weighing almost 120 kg to do anything understated, then Alistair Overeem has achieved that with his return to the cage. Having served his nine-month drug suspension, the former Strikeforce heavyweight champion is likely to earn an automatic heavyweight title shot against Cain Velasquez should he beat Antonio Silva (17-4-0). Overeem is on a 12-fight unbeaten streak and although Silva was mauled by Velasquez as Overeem’s replacement at UFC 146, he looked much more polished in his last outing against Travis Browne. Still, if he can’t get Overeem to the ground, it won’t be a long night for Silva if he decides to trade blows with the man they call "The Reem'.
Could two of the finest grapplers in the welterweight division facing off against each other serve as the perfect time to refill drinks and stretch the legs? Possibly. It’s not an accusation that Jon Fitch (24-4-1) hasn’t heard before. However, Fitch’s last fight against rising star Erick Silva earned him his second “Fight of the Night” bonus, no small feat in Silva’s backyard with a raucous Brazilian crowd. His opponent, Demian Maia (17-4-0), knows a thing or two about ending a fight. Although Fitch has never been submitted since he turned pro, Maia did submit his first five opponents in the UFC and since dropping to welterweight has had two wins from as many fights – making both Dong Hyun Kim and Rick Story tap out within the first round.
Finally, the main card opener sees two elite flyweights face off and look to bounce back from last start losses to UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson. Ian McCall (11 - 3 – 1) and Joseph Benavidez (16 - 3 – 0) will square up in what is sure to be a fight filled with speed and agility rarely seen in the Octagon. While “Uncle Creepy” McCall is the larger of the two, both possess power in their fists with McCall especially deadly when in top control and raining elbows and fists.
With a card this loaded there’s sure to be fans turning up to work on Monday (or fronting up for Super Bowl parties in the U.S) with very sore heads.
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