UFC 156: Aldo vs. Edgar Review – The Unexpected
My review of UFC 156: Aldo vs. Edgar, which was a good event with some shocking results.
Jose Aldo def. Frankie Edgar: I love both of these guys and they each put on the performance I expected. For the first three rounds, Aldo was his usual, cerebral self. He used leg kicks to chop down Edgar, landed the heavier punches, and avoided the takedowns. But in rounds 4 and 5, Edgar’s pace started to catch up to Aldo and he took over. In round 4 he landd some big takedowns and kept Aldo off balance with his movement and striking. Round 5 was a little closer, but Edgar definitely hung in there and did a nice job getting in and out. Even thought Joe Rogan thought the fight was closer than it was, no one can deny how well Edgar did against the champion. In the end though, Aldo won thanks to his effective striking and takedown defense. The leg kicks were there for Aldo all fight, but he went away from them after round 2 it seemed because he feared the takedown. Edgar should be credited because he was able to takedown Aldo off a leg kick, but given how well they were working, he shouldn’t have abandoned them the way he did. To his credit, Aldo’s boxing was great and it seemed like Edgar had a rough time with the speed, which was to be expected. Edgar was his usual self, growing stronger as the fight wore on but he put himself in a hole and he’s not the type of guy who finishes fights, not that it’s easy to finish a guy like Aldo. Edgar was definitely the best opponent Aldo has ever faced, but he was just a steps too slow in this fight. Given the shallowness of the featherweight division though, I would be shocked I Edgar is challenging for the belt again by the end of the year. In fact, I would’ve liked to see him win a fight before facing Aldo, but that didn’t happen due to circumstances. But now that he’s used to the speed and power on Aldo, he can make the proper adjustments and come back stronger. And we all know how good Edgar is in rematches. I don’t see who beats Aldo at 145 though. I’m sure someone at 155 will drop down and we’ll go crazy over a potential match up, but given the current crop of talent, who can beat this guy? Ricardo Lamas is likely next, and even though he’s on a nice win streak, what does he have to offer the champ? Aldo is just on another level right now and the only thing I see slowing him down is injuries. I’m sure these two will fight again and when they do, I’ll be just as excited for the rematch.
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira def. Rashad Evans: I don’t even want to talk about this fight. Evans did nothing for 15-minutes and Nogueira did just enough. I don’t really blame Nogueira because he tried to open up and he actually landed some strikes. I completely blame Evans though, who just didn’t show up to fight. He landed one takedown early and then went half ass on a couple of other takedowns. That’s not the Evans that we’ve seen over the years, who usually offers a bit more pressure, especially with his wrestling. Evans fought with no sense of urgency or “swagger” that he’s become so famous for. This was a terrible loss for Evans, who could have easily moved into a title shot against Anderson Silva with a victory. Now I don’t know where he goes. He’s still a name fighter and there are options for him at light heavyweight, but he might be best off dedicating himself full time to middleweight. I don’t really care what he does, as long as he gets back to fighting up to his full potential and not putting on performances like he did on Saturday. This was obviously a big win for Nogueira, possibly even the biggest of his career. People won’t put too much stock into it because of how bad Evans looked, but Nogueira did what he needed to do. This fight definitely puts him “in the mix” and possibly a win or two away from a title shot.
Antonio Silva def. Alistair Overeem: Overeem was exposed as being Overeem in this fight. In the first round, he was too patient, but still did a nice job landing knees in the clinch and countering when Silva would move forward. In the second round he was able to put Silva on his back but didn’t take advantage of the position like one would think he would. Instead of opening up with ground and pound to the body and head, he was once again too patient and allowed himself to be controlled by Silva. When Silva was able to get up at the end of the round, he started to open up and pressure Overeem. In the third round, Silva knew he had Overeem on the ropes and he didn’t let up. Overeem was dead tired and clearly didn’t respect the striking and power of Silva and it came back to bite him as Silva unleashed a flurry that put Overeem out cold. This fight really complicates a shallow heavyweight picture. Overeem was due a title shot with a win, but with a KO loss, he’ll now have to work his way back up. Silva looked impressive in victory, but I don’t think anyone will forget how badly Cain Velasquez murderized him in their first fight. Granted things could go different the second time around, but Velasquez is no Overeem in terms of his style and complete lack of cardio. This loss opens the door for Fabricio Werdum to get that title shot he earned back at UFC 85. All he has to do is beat Rodrigo Nogueira.
Demian Maia def. Jon Fitch: Fitch got Fitch’d in the worst way possible. From the opening bell, Maia initiated every single grappling exchange, got Fitch down with way more ease than people expected, and dominated Fitch on the ground. Usually good in exchanges and scrambles, Fitch had no answer for the positioning and control of Maia. For the majority of the 15-minutes, Maia had the back of Fitch and didn’t let go. To his credit, Fitch wasn’t submitted, but just because you can play good defense for 15-minutes doesn’t mean you weren’t thoroughly out-classed on the mat. This was a tough loss for Fitch. He wasn’t just caught early like he was against Hendricks, he was out-wrestling and out-grappled for the entire fight. He lost the fight how he usually wins them. His entire game was completely neutralized by his opponent and he amounted almost zero offense. Maia made a statement with this win. It’s not easy to beat Fitch, it’s even harder to completely dominate him. Maia has definitely gotten back to his grappling roots at 170, and now that he’s not at a size disadvantage, he’s able to muscle guys around with ease. Fitch’s takedown defense has always been a bit overrated, but he’s never been put down and out-positioned like he was in this fight. There are a lot of good wrestlers at 170, and if Maia can’t take them down he could be in some trouble, but as long as he can clinch up and have a chance to trip them to the mat or pull guard, he’ll out-grapple anyone at welterweight.
Joseph Benavidez def. Ian McCall: As expected, this was a fun, fast-paced scrap. Benavidez was just a hair quicker than McCall, landing the cleaner and more effective strikes. McCall had his moments, especially at the end of the second round when he capitalized on a Benavidez slip by quickly taking the back, landing some good ground and pound, and finishing the round in a dominant position. But in rounds two and three, Benavidez was able to out-strike him and hurt him a couple of times with power shots. Like just about every flyweight fight, there was a lot of action but there was no sense of finish at any point. Benavidez is a powerful striker at 125 and McCall has a very controlling top game, but these guys are just so fast and durable that it’s tough to put them away. I’m not criticizing either guy, because this was a fun fight, but I think we can all agree that fights are even more exciting when you get that feeling that the bout can end at any time. That feeling rarely comes at flyweight. With the victory, Benavidez will likely get another shot at Demetrious Johnson and the flyweight title. Their first fight was a close split decision, and really, who else is there at flyweight that anyone knows?