The Fight Report: UFC 156

| January 28, 2013 | 2:19 pm | Reply

UFC 156On the heels of all this free UFC action, comes this Saturday’s UFC 156 PPV that is certainly worth the money. Defending featherweight champion Jose Aldo will return to the cage after a lengthy hiatus, taking on former Lightweight kingpin Frankie Edgar in our main event while Alistair Overeem will look to secure a title shot for himself against Bigfoot Silva in the Heavyweight division. Rashad Evans and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira will face off in a tilt at 205 pounds, while Jon Fitch and Demian Maia will clash in a grappler’s delight at Welterweight.

There’s tons of action at UFC 156, so let’s jump right into it.

Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar: A super fight of sorts when there was talk of Aldo moving up in weight for the same bout; Edgar has decided to meet the champion at 145lbs instead. Aldo comes into this fight having won the title back in 2009 and hasn’t shown much vulnerability in his title defenses thus far, dispatching tough wrestlers and strikes alike. Aldo’s hallmark is his lethal combination work and impeccable timing that has seen him smoke fighters like Manny Gamburyan and Cub Swanson literally out of nowhere. A long layoff threatens to erode these skills though, and we’ll wait in anticipation to see how he responds to such a game challenger.

That challenger is none other than the incredible Frankie Edgar, whom has abandoned the 155lb division to fight at a more competitive weight. The frightening thing is that the FW Edgar was not only competitive at his walking weight, but also defeated some of the best fighters in the division during his title, and arguably should have never lost that belt in the first place; His matches with Benson Henderson being razor-close.  Edgar’s greatest assets are his seamless flow between striking and wrestling, and a comfort level in every situation inside the cage that means he’s never out of the fight.

This is a tough call, but I feel the difference between the two fighters is their relative competition, with Aldo’s opponents being largely on the decline as fighters, while Edgar has faced up and coming opponents in the last several years, despite being at a major size disadvantage against several.  It’s difficult to advance when you’re facing lesser foes, and the long layoffs and injuries between bouts might not keep Aldo at his best. Overall, I feel Edgar’s comparable speed, broad skill set and superior competition have better prepared him for the Featherweight title than Aldo at this point, and I see the former LW champion grabbing a new strap at UFC 156.

Alistair Overeem vs. Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva: With the heavyweight division looking great at the top, Overeem and Bigfoot Silva will look to muscle their way into a title shot with an impressive win here.  Overeem has received a great deal of press for his drug testing fiasco over the last year and many folks are unaware of what he even brings to the table as far as skill goes. The honest answer is: Not as much as you’d think. While Overeem had been working on a ground game in his years as a Light Heavyweight, his subsequent quest to become a human tank really put his actual talent on the back burner. What he has in exchange for this is the hardest striking in MMA, and perhaps all of combat sports. He isn’t skillful, but his punching and knee strikes can fell almost anyone on Earth, making his a dangerous foe under any circumstance.

Bigfoot has turned some heads himself in his last bout, having put away undefeated heavyweight Travis Browne in impressive fashion. A veteran of the sport, Bigfoot has notched wins over a prime Andrei Arlovski and Fedor Emelienenko, though fallen short to division superstars Cain Velasquez and Daniel Cormier. A highly functional fighter that moves well for his size, Bigfoot has legitimate grappling skills, deceptive speed in his strikes, and a decent fight IQ that’s seen him go far in his heavyweight career.

The bottom line here is going to be if Bigfoot can avoid getting hit by Overeem in the first couple minutes of the fight, as Overeem’s strength fades as time goes on, and the simple answer is: No.  Bigfoot is very hittable in the early goings of a fight, and going against Overeem will be no exception.  Overeem doesn’t have much, but what he does have will likely put Silva to sleep in short order.

Quick Reports:

Rashad Evans vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira: A fun fight, but one that could turn sad in a hurry as Evans faces the aging Rogerio Nogueira. Lil Nog hasn’t looked good in a long time and considering the speed and skill of Evans, I can’t imagine this goes well for the Brazilian hero. Evans should have no trouble getting this on the mat and finishing Nog with brutal ground and pound midway through the round, opening up an interesting “revenge angle” fight at MW with Anderson Silva.

Demian Maia UFC 156

Demian Maia will look to stay undefeated at welterweight

Jon Fitch vs. Demian Maia: A highly competitive grappling bout is on deck, with Jon Fitch facing the world champion BJJ of Demian Maia. Maia has looked unbelievable at Welterweight thus far, with Fitch having rebounded from his KO loss to Hendricks with a stunning performance of his own. This is a close match, but I have to give Maia an edge in terms of having a difficult style to emulate in the gym and a lifetime of experience in grappling style encounters like this. It could pan out badly for Maia in striking exchanges, but his ground skill should edge him a close decision.

Joseph Benavidez vs. Ian McCall: A title fight is brewing in the small but competitive 125lb division, and Benavidez and McCall are on deck. I like Benavidez, but his growth as a fighter has stagnated at Team Alpha Male and he’ll bring nothing new to the table against McCall. While McCall will be at a disadvantage in the strength and pure wrestling departments, he’s an ace in other areas of the fight and I feel should be able to do far more damage than Benavidez in this bout. A close decision yields positive results for McCall sends him into a rubber match with Mighty Mouse.

Gleison Tibau vs. Evan Dunham: A great Lightweight battle between two fighters at the middle of the pack. Tibau’s hallmark has been his massive size, but as the division physically grows around him, he’s had to adjust and put an emphasis on his boxing and top game. Dunham has had some issues as well lately, being worked on the feet by several stiff competitors. This is a coin flip, but I like Dunham’s straight punching and quick takedowns over Tibau’s sometimes lax pacing and power punches.

Tyron Woodley vs. Jay Hieron: Two very similar fighters square off as veteran Jay Hieron faces Strikeforce transplant Tyron Woodley. Another close bout on the undercard, Hieron has a slightly better boxing game and plenty of wrestling skill, but the youth and speed of Woodley could prove to be too much.  One or two mistakes could seal the deal for either fighter, but I like Woodley’s power punching and double legs to control this fight.

Jacob Volkmann vs. Bobby Green: Exciting Lightweight Bobby Green will make his UFC debut, taking on no one’s favorite fighter Jacob Volkmann. Green brings a high level of athletic ability to the cage with his trademark high energy style, but Volkmann is a seasoned grappler that could give him fits if the gets a hold of him. I like Green, but Volkmann knows where he can win and isn’t going to fight a kickboxing bout he can’t win, forcing a grappling battle and taking this fight by late submission or decision.

Yves Edwards vs. Isaac Vallie-Flagg: Another exciting lightweight enters the fold from SF, as Isaac Vallie-Flagg puts his five year undefeated streak on the line against veteran fighter Yves Edwards.  Vallie-Flagg is an outstanding volume puncher, using a ridiculous output of attacks to grind out opponents and create openings in their defense. Stylistically though, Edwards is a bad opponent, as his free-form style and technique make him hard to land on in the first place, leading to a lot of air balls and little contact. This should be a fun fight, but I like Edward’s kill shots and smooth attack over the wall of violence thrown by Vallie-Flagg. Look for a great match-up, but one Edwards edges due to outstanding strike placement.

Edwin Figueroa vs. Francisco Rivera: Two guys on the UFC shit list fight for a job. Figueroa is one of two people in the sports history to win a decision due to point deductions, having notched a win over Alex Caceres due to a 2-point deduction from a groin kick. Rivera himself is coming off a suspension for a failed drug test, so needless to say, both guys need this win. These two are primarily muay thai strikes, but I like Rivera’s power and intensity over Figueroa’s sometimes overly technical approach. It could turn south fast if Rivera eats too many mid and low kicks, but I like Rivera’s hands to finish Figueroa early.

Click here for complete UFC 156 coverage.

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