UFC 156 was stacked from top to bottom, and the event lived up to the hype. Here are the biggest winners and losers from the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s first pay-per-view card in 2013.
1. Demian Maia
Maia put on a grappling clinic at UFC 156, smothering Jon Fitch from start to finish (all three judges scored the fight 30-27 in his favor). Surprisingly, Maia — who has historically struggled against wrestlers — was able to take Fitch down at will, beating the grinder at his own game. The Brazilian made it clear that he’s one of the best fighters in the UFC’s welterweight division with his dominant performance against Fitch, and I really like the way he matches up against current welterweight champion, Georges. St. Pierre.
2. Jose Aldo
Aldo proved once again why he’s regarded as one of the pound-for-pound best MMA fighters around; successfully defending his featherweight title against a game Frankie Edgar at UFC 156 (he won via unanimous decision). He secured the victory with his powerful, pinpoint accurate strikes, and he displayed his resilience during the latter rounds when his cardio began to fade.
3. Tyron Woodley
Woodley made it clear he belongs in the Ultimate Fighting Championship at UFC 156, dismantling Jay Hieron in only 36 seconds. Tyron’s quick KO victory was particularly impressive, considering the fact he was brutally knocked out by Nate Marquardt — his first professional loss — during his last Strikeforce bout. To put things in perspective, even Jake Ellenberger needed three full rounds to defeat Hieron.
1. Rashad Evans
“Suga” would have probably been the next man to square up against current middleweight champion, Anderson Silva, if he’d emerged victorious at UFC 156, but he ended up having one of the worst performances of his MMA career. He rarely tried to take the fight to the ground throughout his 15-minute encounter against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. Instead, the two had a light sparring session at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nev.
2. Alistair Overeem
Like Rashad, Overeem would have been in line for a title shot if he’d emerged victorious at UFC 156, but the former Strikeforce heavyweight champion ended up throwing the fight away. He showed no respect for Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva’s punching power, keeping his hands low throughout the bout. Overeem was able to get away with his carelessness during the first two rounds — which he won — but it eventually caught up to him during the final round when his cardio started to fade. Bigfoot caught him off guard with a right hook, and the behemoth put Alistair away with a barrage of uppercuts and hooks against the cage.
It was a fight Overeem should have easily won, but his overconfidence and weak chin (which has been well-documented over the years) ended up costing him.
3. Jon Fitch
With his loss to Maia, Fitch has now lost two of his last three fights, and for the first time in a while, he’s no longer one of the top fighters in the UFC’s welterweight division. To be fair though, Fitch managed to survive 15 minutes with a dangerous Brazilian Jiu Jitsu specialist like Maia on top of him without getting submitted. That’s an accomplishment in itself.