UFC 156: Aldo vs. Edgar Preview – Starting The Year Right

My preview of UFC 156: Aldo vs. Edgar, which is an absolutely awesome card.

Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar: This is such a fantastic fight that I can’t wait for. It’s been over a year since we’ve seen Aldo in the cage, which is a real shame considering that he’s one of the most dynamic fighters in the sport. He’s facing his toughest competitor to date though in Edgar. On the feet, even though Edgar is a quick boxer, Aldo is much more diverse. We saw Ben Henderson have a lot of success with leg kicks in the second bout against Edgar before he completely went away from them. I expect Aldo to use a lot of leg kicks in this bout, not only because it’s one of his favorite techniques, but also because the kicks will slow down the movement of Edgar. Even though Edgar moves a lot, he’s still a pretty hittable fighter. If Edgar is going to win this fight, he’s going to have to use his wrestling. He’s been able to takedown every fighter he’s faced, including BJ Penn and Gray Maynard, both of whom have strong takedown defense. Aldo doesn’t have a wrestling background, but he does have quick hips and has shown excellent takedown defense throughout his career. Aldo’s cardio is very questionable though, especially coming off such a long layoff, and Edgar is the type of fighter who gets stronger as the fight goes on, even if he’s been decimated in the opening round. For Edgar to win, I really think he needs to take one of the first three rounds. He can’t be three rounds down heading into the title rounds and need a finish, because even a tired Aldo is tough to finish. Edgar, who is notorious for his slow starts, can’t afford to have one in this fight. As for Aldo, he can’t afford to let Edgar off the hook if he has him hurt. So far in his UFC run, we’ve seen a relaxed and comfortable Aldo and not the killer that many fell in love with. I don’t begrudge the guy for not taking some crazy risk, but he’s just a little too comfortable to let the fight come to him. That’s a dangerous mindset against someone as skilled and tough as Edgar. I’d be really surprised to see one of these two finished, but I think Aldo’s diverse striking and takedown defense will be enough to win him at least three of five rounds. Edgar will make it interesting, but I like Aldo to pull off the decision.

Prediction: Aldo, Decision

Rashad Evans vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira: Evans might be the second or third best light heavyweight in the world, but he’s nowhere close to a title shot after just losing to Jon Jones. Thus he gets paired up with Nogueira, who is good, but has had a pretty disappointing UFC run. Nogueira is a good boxer, but he has a tendency to get sloppy and is pretty hittable. Evans is the more diverse striker, is faster, and has more power. He’s also a solid counter puncher when the opportunity presents itself. Of course the biggest advantage Evans has in this fight is his wrestling. Nogueira doesn’t have terrible takedown defense, but Evans is great at using his strikes to set up his takedowns and quickly changing levels. On the ground, Nogueira has good sweeps, but his submission game isn’t good enough to really threaten Evans. I don’t think this will be a super impressive performance by Evans, because Nogueira is well-rounded and tough, but Evans should be able to consistently take him down and land the bigger strikes.

Prediction: Evans, Decision

Alistair Overeem vs. Antonio Silva: Everyone seems to think that this fight is a foregone conclusion. Even though Overeem should KO Silva given his superior striking, power, and Silva’s terrible chin, this is Overeem we’re talking about. His chin isn’t much better, he has a history of wilting when pressed, and he hasn’t fought in over a year. Silva is an underrated wrestler and if he presses forward, why shouldn’t I believe that Overeem will just fold again? That said, I still think Overeem wins this fight. Silva is just so hittable and stand so flat footed that Overeem should be able to break him down with kicks or connect with an overhand right, which Silva has a history of poorly defending. And if Silva goes for a takedown, isn’t able to secure it, and is stuck in the clinch, he’s really screwed given Overeem’s devastating knees. If Silva can survive the first round, I like his chances, but I don’t think he’ll be able to do that.

Prediction: Overeem, TKO, Round 1

Jon Fitch vs. Demian Maia: I’m really looking forward to this fight because Fitch has consistently been one of the top welterweights and Maia has looked really good in his two welterweight bouts. I really hope this fight doesn’t turn into a crappy striking battle, because Maia’s striking is terrible and, while Fitch’s striking might be underrated, it’s nothing special and he lacks power. Now if this turns into a grappling contest, we could be in for a hell of a fight. Fitch has a hell of a top game and is one of the best in sport at shutting down his opponents offense. Maia is one of the best grapplers in the sport though and will make Fitch work to stay on top and in a dominant position. I know Fitch has great submission defense, but you can only play with fire so many times before you get burnt. If Maia gets the back or mount for an extended period of time, I think he submits Fitch. However, getting those dominant positions will be easier said than done. First, the fight has to hit the ground. Fitch is very good at clinching up, putting guys against the cage, and nuetralizing them. While Maia is an underrated wrestler, it’s going to be hard for him to get Fitch down if he can’t get off the cage. Maia has to get this fight to the ground to win, and even then he’s going to have a hard time out-positioning Fitch for 15-minutes, espcially as the fight drags on and his cardio is tested. I think this will be a close fight, but I like Fitch to win at least two rounds with his striking, clinch work, and top game.

Prediction: Fitch, Decision

Joseph Benavidez vs. Ian McCall: McCall is going through personal problems, so we all know he’s losing this fight. Even if Benavidez is the superior fighter, McCall will lose because of his personal problems. But seriously, Benavidez is the superior fighter and this isn’t a title fight. I think Benavidez out-strikes McCall handily and easily avoids any takedown attempt McCall tries. I know a finish isn’t all that likely, but I’m going to be an optimist and say Benavidez puts McCall away in this fight.

Prediction: Benavidez, Submission, Round 2

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