“I don’t think that was supposed to happen.”
That was the text I received this morning from a friend who is very much a casual MMA fan regarding last night’s UFC 156. Even though I assumed that my friend was talking about the end result of Bigfoot vs. Overeem, that statement could just as easily apply to almost any other fight on the card. We’re all familiar with the cliché that any fighter can beat anyone else on any night at this level, but we rarely see the underdogs win as frequently – and as convincingly – as they did last night. Simply put, it was an awful night for the guys who were supposed to win.
So let’s start off with the fight that went exactly as we all assumed it would: Jose Aldo defeated Frankie Edgar by a close, yet unanimous decision. Naturally, Edgar grew stronger as the fight went on. And naturally, the fight was close enough to justify an immediate rematch if one were to be booked (it probably won’t but who knows), because that’s just how Frankie Edgar fights work.
It’s impossible to be disappointed with Frankie Edgar’s effort in any given fight, and last night was no exception. Edgar provided Aldo with his stiffest challenge to date – after the champion returned from the longest layoff in his career, mind you – but Aldo was simply the better fighter.
Aldo used his leg kicks, a stiff jab and great takedown defense to control the bout during the first two rounds. Despite Aldo winning the third round, Edgar began to build momentum that he would have on his side for the rest of the bout. The crowd came alive in the fourth round after a magnificent slam from the challenger, and Edgar took the fifth round with his combinations. In the end, it was too little too late, as the judges all saw the fight in favor of Jose Aldo.
As for what happens next? That’s just about anyone’s guess. Frankie Edgar isn’t sure if he wants to stay at featherweight or move back up to lightweight for his next fight (although his boss has made it pretty clear where he feels Edgar should be). Dana White mentioned in the post-event press conference that Anthony Pettis texted him asking for Jose Aldo, and I don’t think anyone would complain about that fight being booked. Well, anyone except for Ricardo Lamas and Chan Sung-Jung, who would like to remind everyone that they exist and fight at featherweight. We’ll keep you up to date as this sorts itself out.
Elsewhere on the card…
- Lil’ Nog upset Rashad Evans, taking home a unanimous decision victory. Jon Jones may have very well beaten the aggression out of Rashad, as he seemed content with letting Nogueira occasionally jab his way to the victory. Okay, maybe it wasn’t that bad, but it was certainly enough to squash the ongoing Rashad Evans vs. Anderson Silva discussions for the time being. The less we say about this fight, the better.
- Dead serious question: Are we keeping that awesome Manto t-shirt we were trying to give away, or did one of you degenerate gamblers play the odds and predict that Bigfoot would knock out Overeem in the third round simply because no one else predicted that?
On paper, Antonio Silva defeating Alistair Overeem may very well be the most underrated upset of all time. I write this because the gambling lines had Silva at +315 - which actually made him less of an underdog than Jamie Varner was when he deflated Edson Barboza’s hype – even though I can’t think of a single reason that anyone thought Antonio Silva might win this fight. At least Jamie Varner was fighting a promising, yet unproven prospect. Silva, meanwhile, was taking on a proven destroyer who was going to issue a Cormeir/Velasquez-esque beating on his way to a title shot.
I can’t think of one advantage anyone was giving Silva before the fight, except for the token “Well, he IS pretty big, I guess.” And for the first two rounds, that’s exactly how the fight went down. Overeem didn’t look like he was ever close to finishing Silva, but it was convincing enough to justify the hype he’s been riding. And then round three happened. Holy shit, did round three happen. You’d swear Silva’s plan all along was “Let Overeem think he an defeat you, then humiliate him.” It was equal parts this and this, basically.
So the big question now is, where exactly do we go from here? It sounds like Overeem will be fighting Junior Dos Santos, and Bigfoot Silva will be doing anything but fighting Velasquez for his next fight. I like both of these ideas. Although JDS is a big name in the division, he is also coming off of a rather humbling loss and needs a victory to stay at the top of the division. Expect fireworks from that one. Also, after the beating that Cain Velasquez put on Bigfoot Silva – and even the beating that Overeem put on him during the first two rounds – I’d like to see a little more out of Silva before talking about him as a title contender.
- It’s almost like Demian Maia read all that mean stuff we published about him as a middleweight, because he has been on an absolute tear since dropping to welterweight. Maia took Jon Fitch down at will last night, and had Fitch defending against ground and pound and submission attempts the entire fight. There’s no other way to say it: Maia managed to out-Fitch Jon Fitch and actually be entertaining while doing so. Let that sink in.
- Ian McCall is officially a bust signing. McCall was considered the top flyweight on Earth before the UFC implemented the weight class, and signed to be an immediate contender in the new division. McCall quickly found that it’s a lot easier to be number one when anyone who can beat you is in the UFC fighting at bantamweight, and once he was matched up against stiff competition, he’s proven to be a tough, yet very beatable opponent.
- If you bet $100 on a Bobby Green, Demian Maia, Antonio Silva and Lil’ Nog parlay, you would have been put in a mental institution before the fights last night. You would have been released just in time for the main event, $33,663 richer.
- Fight of the Night went to Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar, Knockout of the Night went to Bigfoot Silva and Submission of the Night went to Bobby Green. All bonuses were worth $50k.
Jose Aldo defeats Frankie Edgar via Unanimous Decision
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira defeats Rashad Evans via Unanimous Decision
Antonio Silva defeats Alistair Overeem via TKO (Strikes), 0:25 Round Three
Demian Maia defeats Jon Fitch via Unanimous Decision
Joseph Benavidez defeats Ian McCall via Unanimous Decision
Evan Dunham defeats Gleison Tibau via Split Decision
Tyron Woodley defeats Jay Hieron via KO (Strikes), 0:36 in Round One
Bobby Green defeats Jacob Volkmann via Submission (Rear-Naked Choke), 4:35 Round Three
Isaac Vallie-Flagg defeats Yves Edwards via Split Decision
Dustin Kimura defeats Chico Camus via Submission (Rear-Naked Choke), 1:50 Round Three
Francisco Rivera defeats Edwin Figueroa via TKO (Strikes), 4:20 Round Two