UFC 156: Aldo squeaks win over Edgar
UFC 156 treated fans with so many jaw-dropping fights it’s hard to know where to begin.
The Brazilian has a new game face on at 170, and showed vastly improved takedowns, important against a wrestler like Fitch, and something many BJJ wizards have been criticized for in the past. His control, over one of the UFC’s best applied wrestlers, catapulted Maia into title shot contention.
Suga' Rashad Evans took on Antonio Rogerio 'Minotoro’ Nogueira in an attempt to work his way back to a title shot with Jon 'Bones' Jones. But from the beginning something looked off with the American wrestler. Perhaps it was Little Nog’s distance, movement, boxing skills, power, or his rebooted takedown defense. Whatever the reason, Evans looked lethargic compared with former selves.
Takedowns proved futile for Evans all night, so he was forced to stand with a man who has superior hands. The speedy, energetic, fast-twitch Evans we knew and put up with was somewhere else on this night. Hats off to Nogueira.
Former K-1 Champion and monster heavyweight Alistair Overeem came off a long suspension, due to a failed drug test with the Nevada State Athletic Commission, to take on Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva. Overeem used his energy and kickboxing skills early to control the Octagon, but that’s about all.
In the second, Overeem got Silva down, but seemed to take more elbows than he was giving punches. On the feet, Overeem often kept his hands down, goading Silva, and to begin the third, a contemptuous smirk rippled across Overeem’s face. Silva would wipe it off.
I’ve said before in this column that K-1 kickboxers, those from Europe especially, don’t necessarily fare well in the UFC. Their relatively plodding style isn’t suited to actually fighting. Silva demonstrated this to fans throughout the land whose mouths were agape.
Early in round three, Silva waded through Overeem’s range, got hold of him, pushed him to the fence, and began to whale on the Dutchman, showing him what kinetic energy is all about. The slow-motion replay showed the only thing keeping Overeem on his feet was Silva’s next uppercut.
What is so satisfying for me was thinking about all the fans who’d derided UFC fighters in particular, and MMA fighters in general, implying K-1 champions would own them in the Octagon. Not so. Far more energy is expended in an MMA fight, especially when the fight goes against the cage, and fighters have a lot more to think about defending than just strikes.
Silva stood over the floored Overeem, reportedly yelling, “Get up, I want to fight more.” Yay Antonio Silva.
The featherweight title fight between Jose 'Scarface' Aldo and Frankie Edgar was as good as fans had hoped. Though there was no finish, it was unrealistic to expect one. Edgar doesn’t have the power to finish Aldo, and while Aldo has finishing power to spare, if Benson Henderson and Gray Maynard failed at stopping Edgar, it was hard to imagine Aldo succeeding.
Aldo scored with some hard low leg kicks set up by his left hook. But Edgar’s movement made these relatively few and far between. Aldo won the first two rounds, but the third was made closer as Edgar began to time the kicks and grab the leg. He succeeded on only a couple of takedowns in the fight, but he also countered with shots and all this made Aldo carefully consider the kicks.
Edgar pulled away with rounds four and five on my scorecard, and although he didn’t dominate these rounds, neither did Aldo dominate his early on in the fight. A couple judges scored the fight 49-46, which is unfair to Edgar.
By the end of the fight, Aldo was depleted and Edgar was moving much like he had early in the fight. One fan noted that had the fight gone on indefinitely, Edgar would win easily. But the rule is five five-minute rounds, and that’s what they train for and fight.
Certainly neither fighter’s stock did anything but rise with these performances.
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