UFC 156 Breakdown and Predictions: Main Card

UFC 156: Aldo vs. Edgar takes place tomorrow night in Las Vegas, Nevada at the Mandalay Bay for their annual Superbowl Weekend card, and we will find out once and for all if the main is a superfight  or just another title fight in the featherweight division. In the main event, Jose Aldo will defend his title against former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar, and  in the co-main event Rashad Evans takes on Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. Below you will find the predictions and breakdowns for all the planned bouts on the main card.

Joseph Benavidez (16-3) vs. Ian McCall (11-3-1)

I can think of a dozen reasons to pick Benavidez in this fight over McCall, and can only think of one way McCall wins this fight. Benavidez happens to be very good at all the things that gave McCall problems in both of his fights with champion Demetrious Johnson, and when you add in all of the public personal issues McCall has had this past six months, its hard for me to assume he  will be 100% focused on Benavidez. Yes, they both lost to Johnson by basically the same way – they were  outstruck and out grappled over the course of the three fights.

The key to this one will the be takedowns and scrambles from Benavidez. He is an expert in transitions and is able to sneak around into submissions to take fighters by surprise. I think this is going to keep McCall preoccupied in this fight, and Benavidez will do enough to take the decision. McCall is going to make a true test out of this, and it wouldn’t be shocking to see him get the  upset win, but its a really steep uphill battle in my opinion.

Prediction: Joseph Benavidez unanimous decision

Jon Fitch (24-4-1) vs Demian Maia (17-4-0)

While Maia has looked like a whole new fighter in the welterweight division, his main obstacle will be the pristine position grappling of Fitch. Maia is definitely schooled enough to pull something off that Fitch won’t be expecting, but Fitch is so good at using his BJJ too stay out of submissions that he will have to pull of something very unorthodox to catch him.  That said, Maia will find out exactly where he stands at welterweight tomorrow night as he faces one of the divisions many wrestlers he will have to deal with in his hunt for the belt. That’s what I think this fight will be for Maia, and as such I expect him to win a round though Fitch will ultimately take the victory home via decision.

Prediction: Jon Fitch split decision

Alistair Overeem (36-11) vs. Antonio Silva (17-4)

Overeem is calling this fight a warm up fight for a title fight, but he should definitely not be looking past “Bigfoot”. The last guy who did that was Fedor Emelianenko, and that worked out terribly for him. Overeem has the tools to beat Silva nine times out of ten, but his confidence leading up to this should be checked as I have a hard time believing he is going to finish Silva quick. I think Silva’s chances increase the longer the fight lasts, as I think he could get some serious damage in he gets on top of Overeem. Its a possibility, but not a likely one in my opinion.

Prediction: Alistair Overeem TKO round 1

Rashad Evans (17-2-1) vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (20-5)

This is a really tough fight for Nogueira, and if he can  pull off a win here he will turn the top of the light heavyweight division on its head. Nogueira’s only real way to win this fight is to knock out Evans, and while Evans has been knocked out in the past, its not something that happens a lot. Lets not forget how much Evans’ striking has improved since his run on The Ultimate Fighter, where he went in as a heavyweight wrestler and is now a former champion who still has a good chance at getting back in the title hunt.

I think Evans will play on the feet a little bit with Nogueira, and if he is doing well I expect him to stay there until the end of rounds where he will secure points with takedowns. Nogueira will probably do little to defend them, as he is able to fight off his back, but I expect Evans to stay out of submissions and do more than enough damage on the ground to secure the win.

Prediction: Rashad Evans Unanimous Decision

Jose Aldo (21-1) vs. Frankie Edgar (15-3-1)

Edgar has done well in recent fights by being very durable come showtime. His ability to recover from punches and stay in fights has been a joy to watch, but eventually he is going to meet someone who has the power to put him away with strikes. I think that person is Aldo.

Edgar has been using his speed advantage to keep his opponents on their heal, but I don’t think that is going to work on Aldo. I think Aldo is quicker than Edgar, and especially when it comes to his responses in quick transitions.  His match-up with Chad Mendes is a perfect example, as the timing on the knee that put him away was perfect, and it was instinct/twitch reflexes that landed that strike. Only a few people are that quick with throwing strikes in the UFC and Aldo is one of them. I see Aldo neutralizing the speed advantage of Edgar, going on to finish him in the fourth round.

Prediction: Jose Aldo TKO round 4