What a weekend for sports. Phil Mickelson just missed a 59 and won his event start to finish. There was a minor sporting event in New Orleans dealing with the Ravens and the 49ers. And an absolutely fantastic card showed on Saturday night as UFC 156 put on a great show. It was one of the evenings where the Brazilians carried the night, winning most if not all of the highly anticipated matches. Aldo defended his title, Silva defended his pride, and Nogeira just defended the takedown. Looking back, we can see the country of Brazil was the biggest winner, but the biggest loser was Alistair Overeem.
There was a variety of fighting styles and techniques on display Saturday night. Demian Maia defeated Jon Fitch in one of the more anticipated fights. Maia made this fight a Fitch clinic on grinding. Fitch known for wearing his opponents down on the ground and via the takedown, was just overmatched against Maia. Maia showed of a masterful control of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and remained in control of the fight from start to finish. In the first round, Fitch was wearing a Maia suit in the cage. Maia took his back, locked in a body triangle and spent the next five minutes looking for a submission. To his credit, Fitch showed fantastic submission defense and good ground defense. Maia’s skills were too much for Fitch, but Fitch showed an incredible amount of heart and didn’t tap, despite numerous choke attempts.
In what should have been the co-main event, Antonio Silva defeated Alistair Overeem. With a win, Overeem was all set to fight for the title. And his approach to this fight looked as if he was already counting his money for Knock-out of the Night. Silva, took a beating in the first round but Overeem allowed Silva to remain in the fight. In the second round, Silva showed up a bit more. He landed a handful of counters to Overeem’s brutal strikes. Overeem could have finished the fight in the first round, and possibly the second round but we got to see round 3. And the third round was absolutely amazing. Both men come out like raging bulls and embraced in the clinch, bounced off each other and hands started to fly. Silva after breaking the clinch, landed a head kick. Overeem was shook but still in control. After the leg kick, it was a blur of big haymaker punches from Silva. “Bigfoot” landed several heavy-handed punches to Overeem’s head, using his left hand to properly measure the distance initially. Silva knocked out Overeem on the feet, but the judges called it a TKO. You can clearly see Overeem out on his feet and still eating punches. Justified stoppage and almost seems to come to late.
One of the key factors of this fight was the complete lack of respect shown to Antonio Silva by Overeem. Late in the second round and into the third round, Overeem showed no fear of taking a punch from Silva. Overeem broke the first rule of mma/cage fighting, never underestimate(or take for granted) your opponent across the cage. The moment you do, you’ll wake up minutes later asking what happened. Alistair did just that, underestimated Silva and got destroyed in the process. Alistair Overeem will now have to climb back up the ranks after costing himself a title shot.
The most disappointing fight of the main card was Suga Rashad Evans vs Antonio Rogeira Nogeira. Lack of strikes, no real takedowns, no dominant performance, it was 15 minutes of jab catching. Evans attempted a handful of takedowns, I believe he was given credit for one of them, but Nogeira prepared well for Evans wrestling. Neither man took a lot of damage, but Evans face is like a road map of every bump he hit. Nogeira did enough to win, there’s no disputing that, but this was by far the most boring fight of the main card. Any more space given to this fight would be more effort than that fight gave fans.
One of the other great matches for the evening was the main event, Aldo vs Edgar. As mentioned above, Aldo defended and retained his Featherweight title. Aldo came out strong and quick. He won both of the first two rounds, beyond that it was anyone’s call. At some point into round two, Aldo started to show signs of fatigue. His pace slowed, his striking was more conservative and his explosive leg kicks(used to win the first two rounds) all but disappeared after round two. Edgar’s advantage came to show as Aldo faded, Edgar continued to brawl. Edgar wears a lot of damage on his face, similar to Rashad Evans, but it was clear that his efforts netted him the last two rounds. So after the fight, the consensus was Aldo had 2 rounds and Edgar had 2 rounds. The only round in question was round 3. If you were for Edgar, you thought he won the third round. If you were against Edgar, you thought referees were watching out for him or Aldo couldn’t put him away and Aldo won the third. Turns out, the judges were laughing at everyone and had the fight as a 49-46 decision for Aldo.
I’ve never been a fan of Edgar and hate to see him against a fighter I like. I dislike him because of his heart, because I know he is one slight advantage away from taking a decision. The man doesn’t quit and despite my overall dislike of him, I was completely disappointed at Saturday’s decision. Aldo is a great champion and defends his belt well. That being said, Aldo gassed into round two and was unable to recover to his normal self during 2nd, 3rd and 4th. By the 5th round, Aldo had found a second wind and was landing more strikes than the previous two rounds. I have no problem with Aldo winning, but I have a huge problem with poorly scored fights by supposed “judges.” Dana White, owner/operator of UFC, always says “don’t let it go to the judges” and this is a classic example as to why.
Overall, UFC 156 was a great night for the sport. It was a great night for the Brazilians and a fantastic night for Antonio Silva. Jose Aldo left as the reigning champion and Little Nog looks to be in line for a number one contender bout. I have no idea what Saturday means for Fitch and/or Maia, but I’ll be excited to see Fitch in the ring again. Its nights like these that makes me happy to be a fan of mma and PPV events put on by the UFC.