UFC 156 Preview and Picks
Date: Saturday, February 2, 2013 10PM EST
Where: Mandalay Bay Events Center, Las Vegas
by Evergreen, MMA Handicapper, Predictem.com
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The UFC has endured a pretty lengthy bout with injuries to very high profile fighters over the last year but the flipside of that is when the injured stars make their return and the buzz that creates for the pay-per-view cards.UFC 156 is this Saturday and the main event features Jose Aldos return from injury and he does so against Frankie Edgar who drops down to featherweight and immediately gets a shot at the belt.It has been a long time since anyone has looked to be a threat to Aldos title but Edgar brings a ton of UFC and championship experience along with him.If you would have made this match a year ago, it would be billed as cross-division superfight so there is every reason to think this match will live up to its high billing.
Rashad Evans and Rogerio Nogueira face off in the light heavyweight division as well and both fighters are looking for big win to improve their chances at a title shot.This is a great match on paper as Evans quickness and wrestling strengths will be pitted against one of the best boxers at 205 in Little Nog.Both men have been there and done that in this sport but they should both have some anxiety heading in as the loser probably takes a big step back in the pecking order for a shot at Jon Jones.
Alistair Overeem and Antonio Silva round out the best of the main card with the very large heavyweights looking to duke it out and the possibility of a KO is high as pair have 27 professional knockouts between them.The card for UFC 156 is stacked as Ian McCall faces Joseph Benevidez in what appears to be number one contenders match to face Demetrious Johnson for the flyweight belt and that match could actually prove to be fight of the night if both men bring their A-game.If you never get the PPVs from the UFC, this one might be one to get out and see.
Alistair Overeem (36-11)(-500 at Bovada) v. Antonio Sliva (17-4)(+300)
What a great pairing we get in this one as two of the biggest heavyweights tangle in what should be a brawl.Overeem, a former champion with Strikeforce and other promotions, gained much of his fame by knocking out Brock Lesnar at UFC 141.He is back in the Octagon after serving a nine month suspension after having a testosterone ration that was deemed out of tolerance by the Nevada Commission.Alistair said that the positive test was due to a medical error of sorts in which he received a legal substance that was mixed with something that caused the testosterone imbalance.No matter what you think of that theory, he paid his penalty and now faces Bigfoot Silva in a match that will go a long way to gaining a title shot down the road for the winner.Overeem is a bit new to UFC fans but MMA junkies know that he has battled the best with his resume dotted with names like Belfort, Lidell, Rua and Werdum.Overeem hasnt always got the best of these matches (6 KO defeats) but his bouts have almost always been among the most exciting on the card.Offensively, he appears to be a strike first kickboxer but dont overlook his 19 submission wins and he can win from the ground.Silva is a black belt in three different disciplines including Brazilian Jiu Jitsu so Overeem will have to tread lightly if he wants a ground war.Silva is a champion in his own right, once owning the EliteXC belt and owns the feather in his cap of beating Fedor Emelianenko when Fedor was widely considered among the best in the world.Bigfoot needs a win as he is just 1-2 in his last three fights, including a nice KO against Travis Browne after back to back losses to Cain Velasquez and Daniel Cormier.Those losses werent overly damaging to his career but hed like a signature win against a popular up and comer like Overeem.These guys will stand and band most likely and that really favors Overeem.Look for Silva to add in some ground action as the fight progresses but I think Overeem gets the better of the standup and likely finishes this one.(My Pick/Prediction to Win: Overeem by 2ndround KO)
Rashad Evans (17-2-1)(-500) v. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (20-5)(+350)
Another nice match with the potential to really pit strength versus strength as Evans is the better wrestler with Nogueira the better striker, especially with his hands.Both mean are ranked in the top-10 in the light heavyweight division but there isnt much clamor to see Evans face off with Jon Jones after falling by decision in the first fight so Suga needs a dominant win to justify his place at 205.Nogueira stands to gain considerably more as he doesnt have a signature win in the UFC although he has been in with the likes of Dan Henderson so there is some high level experience to fall back on.This one is really all about Little Nog and what kind of offense he can mount against the faster Evans.Nogueira struggled against Ryan Bader and Phil Davis in decision losses and really could have been on the losing side when he squeaked out a split decision against Jason Brilz in May of 2010.Rogerio looked timid at times in those fights, sometimes tired as well and that will not fly against Evans who will push the pace and peck away at Nog if he can.Evans has really only lost to the best of the best with a KO loss against Lyoto Machida when Machida was the best in the division to go with the Jones defeat.Evans seems to win when he is the better overall fighter and that is the case here.Dont look for a submission stoppage as neither man has tapped in his career but Rashads speed advantage should allow him to get in and out against the taller Nogueira and not get caught.Little Nog really needs to tag Evans and win the standup but Evans will simply not be there when the punches come and Suga will come out on top.(My Pick to Cash: Evans by decision)
Jose Aldo (21-1)(-210) v. Frankie Edgar (14-3-1)(+170)
It has been a long time since anyone has seen Aldo in the ring and his return really gives this card juice as the featherweight champ is considered among the best pound for pound fighters in MMA.Aldos only loss came via rear-naked choke in 2005 against Luciano Azevedo and since the UFC absorbed the division and kept Aldo champ, he has held the belt since 2009.Edgar, an All-American wrestler in college is a UFC legend after a pair of B.J. Penn victories and a trio of epic matches against Gray Maynard.Frankie is all heart with enormous toughness and bounce back ability but that wasnt enough in two cracks at Benson Henderson so The Answer drops to 145 in hopes of getting that belt away from one of best ever at the weight class.Aldo has beat Faber, Hominck and Florian to essentially clean out the featherweight division so this is really a test that not many saw coming until Edgar lost his championship rematch.Injury and defeat have given us a great pairing in which we will see how far grit and determination can go in trying to defeat superior talent.There is really no tangible advantage that anyone would give Edgar as his isnt the striker Aldo is and while Frankie is the better wrestler, you really cant expect to hold any opponent down at the lower weight classes.Edgar would be thought to be stronger after fighting at 155lbs but there is some thought that Aldos strength is underrated by his overall skill set and the cut to 145 might take a little steam out of Edgar as well.Unless Edgar can get his hands on Aldo, either with a damaging strike or in the clinch game, I do not see a way that Frankie gets his hands raised in this one.This should be a great fight as Edgar certainly wont go away (0 career losses by stoppage) but Aldo is a full step clear talent wise and that will show come Saturday.(My Prediction to Win: Aldo by decision)