Jose Aldo will finally defend his featherweight title against Frankie Edgar at UFC 156, and the highly anticipated fight should live up to the high expectations.
Here are my predictions for the UFC 156 fight card scheduled for Feb. 2, at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nev:
Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar
This is as even as a fight gets in MMA. Aldo hasn’t fought in over a year, while Edgar has had two hard-fought battles against Benson Henderson within the past 12 months. Edgar is used to being the smaller man when he steps inside the Octagon, but that’s about to change now that the former lightweight champ has dropped down to the featherweight division.
Aldo historically has performed well against solid wrestlers, but Edgar’s grappling coupled with his speed, footwork, and crisp boxing technique might give the Brazilian some problems.
I expect a very competitive bout when these two step inside the Octagon at UFC 156, but I think Edgar will take over the fight in the championship rounds.
Prediction: Edgar wins via decision.
Rashad Evans vs. Antonio “Little Nog” Rogerio Nogueira
Evans will begin his journey back to title contention when squares up against Nogueira at UFC 156. “Little Nog” has lost two of his last three fights, and the promotion didn’t do him any favors by putting him against Evans.
Historically, Nogueira tends to struggle against solid wrestlers, and Rashad happens to be one of the best in the division. Rashad’s hands are also quicker, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets the better of the striking exchanges as well. Very good matchup for Evans, and I expect him to emerge victorious.
Prediction: Evans wins via decision.
Alistair Overeem vs. Antonio Silva
Overeem will get the first crack at new heavyweight champion, Cain Velasquez, if he emerges victorious at UFC 156. “The Demolition Man” looked awesome during his promotional debut, destroying Brock Lesnar during the first round of their UFC 141 encounter.
Silva lost his debut bout with the Ultimate Fighting Championship — getting manhandled by Velasquez at UFC 146 — but he looked a lot better during his last outing against Travis Browne. “Bigfoot” is a well-rounded fighter, but he’ll have a hard time dealing with Overeem’s world-class kickboxing. Silva’s best bet would be to put Alistair on his back and overwhelm him with his size, but it’s hard to see that happening.
Prediction: Overeem wins via TKO.
Jon Fitch vs. Demian Maia
Both men have a lot of momentum going into their UFC 156 encounter. Fitch looked awesome during his last outing, handing Erick Silva his first legitimate loss in the promotion. Maia has been on a tear ever since he dropped down to the welterweight division, racking up wins against Dong Hyun Kim and Rick Story.
Fitch is a solid wrestler, but Maia is significantly better with submissions. However, Fitch hasn’t been submitted since his professional MMA debut, so he should be able to stay out of the Brazilian’s submissions. Another tough fight to call, but I just can’t go against Fitch right now given how good he looked at UFC 153.
Prediction: Fitch wins via decision.
Joseph Benavidez vs. Ian McCall
Benavidez and McCall are coming off losses to Demetrious Johnson, and one of them will begin the journey back to title contention when they meet at UFC 156. Both are well-rounded, quick fighters, which should lead to a very competitive fight.
Prediction: Benavidez wins via decision.
Evan Dunham defeats Gleison Tibau
Tyron Woodley defeats Jay Hieron
Bobby Green defeats Jacob Volkmann
Yves Edwards defeats Isaac Vallie-Flagg
Dustin Kimura defeats Chico Camus
Francisco Rivera defeats Edwin Figueroa