The UFC has been giving fans a lot of free action over recent weeks, but makes the move to Pay-Per-View this weekend, when they bring us UFC 156 live from the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. The card is absolutely loaded from top to bottom, but is highlighted by Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo defending his title against former Lightweight Champion, the always entertaining Frankie Edgar. The card also boasts the return of heavyweight Alistar Overeem, who was suspended from the UFC for nine months after a failed drug test, as he takes on Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva and Rashad Evans taking on Antonio Rogerio Nougeria in a lightweight bout. On the night before the Super Bowl, the UFC is putting on somewhat of a Super Bowl of their own, let’s get to the picks:
Preliminary Card (FX): Edwin Figueroa OVER Francisco Rivera, Dustin Kimura OVER Chico Camus, Isaac Vallie-Flagg OVER Yves Edwards, Jacob Volkmann OVER Bobby Green, Tyron Woodley OVER Jay Hieron, Gleison Tibau OVER Evan Dunham
Main Card (Pay-Per-View):
Joseph Benavidez (16-3) vs. Ian McCall (11-3-1) – Flyweight Bout – Joseph Benavidez is an impressive flyweight, he has only three career losses, two of those were to Dominick Cruz and the other was to current flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson. Two of the three losses were title shots, the only one that wasn’t was the first fight against Cruz, a fight which won “Fight-of-the-Night” honors. I am a big fan of Ian McCall, not only is he a very dangerous flyweight, but he has one of the great nicknames in MMA “Uncle Creepy” due to his facial hair. “Uncle Creepy” is (0-1-1) against current flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson and also has a loss to Dominick Cruz. In what should be an extremely fun and action-packed fight, I give the slight edge to Benavidez. THE PICK: BENAVIDEZ BY DECISION.
Jon Fitch (24-4-1-1) vs. Demian Maia (17-4) – Welterweight Bout – This is going to be a great matchup that will be tough to call, if Demian Maia is not the most skilled Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner in the UFC, he is very close. Maia is undefeated (2-0) since he dropped to Welterweight last year, and is one of the most dangerous submission artists in the world. Jon Fitch is also a very dangerous Welterweight contender, with wins over the likes of Thiago Alves and Diego Sanchez, and there is no doubting his toughness. Interesting stat about Fitch, he has the best submission defense in UFC History, escaping 25 of 25 submission attempts. That streak could come to an end against Maia. When thinking about this fight, one thing that bothers me is the fact that Jon Fitch has not finished a fight since July of 2007, although he can normally use his strength to dominate the action and win decisions. I think that Maia is too crafty to let Fitch impose his will and dominate the fight. THE PICK: MAIA BY SUBMISSION IN ROUND 2.
Alistar Overeem (36-11-1) vs. Antonio Silva (17-4) – Heavyweight Bout – As a mentioned above, Overeem is returning after a 9 month suspension after failing a —- test for elevated levels of testosterone, he will likely be at the top of a short list of heavyweight title contenders if he can get a win on Saturday Night. Overeem is one of the most talented strikers in the world, he is a physical freak, who is a danger to end a fight at any moment. However, Bigfoot Sliva seems to find ways to win the fights that nobody expects him to win, such as when he beat the legendary Fedor in Strikeforce, he is a dangerous man who cannot be taken lightly in the cage. I would be mildly surprised if Silva wins this fight, but not shocked, however somebody will end up getting finished. In a combined 69 career fights these two fighters have only been to a decision 8 times. In what should be an exciting matchup, my money is one the returning Overeem. THE PICK: OVEREEM BY TKO ROUND 1.
Rashad Evans (17-2-1) vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (20-5) – Light Heavyweight Bout – Nougeira is one of the greatest mixed martial artists of all time, however he has two recent losses to Phil Davis and Ryan Bader, both of who come from a wrestling background. Rashad Evans of course, also comes from a wrestling background, but complements it with heavier hands than either Bader or Davis. In his last match, Evans lost to Jon Jones for the light heavyweight title, by a unanimous decision. I expect this fight to be a battle between two of the greats, and although I expect it to go the full time limit, I think the younger Evans dominates the action and wins a decision. THE PICK: EVANS BY DECISION.
Frankie Edgar (14-3-1) vs. (c) Jose Aldo (21-1) – UFC Featherweight Championship Bout – This is the toughest fight that I’d had to pick in recent memory, as former UFC Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar drops down to Featherweight, to take on the dangerous champion Jose Aldo. Frankie Edgar’s resilience in the Octagon is legendary, he is one of the toughest guys in the history of the UFC regardless of weight class, and he always puts on a good show. I was born and raised in New Jersey, as was Edgar, so my heart tells me to pick him. However, Jose Also has only lost once in his entire career, and that was all the way back in 2005. He has won 14 consecutive fights entering Saturday night, while Edgar is coming off two straight losses to Benson Henderson, and is dropping down a weight class. This will be the fight of the night. Heart says Edgar, logic says Aldo. THE PICK: ALDO BY DECISION.
MMA PICKS RECORD (by event):
UFC on FOX: Johnson vs. Dodson –
Preliminaries: (4-2) Main Card (2-2) Overall (6-4)
UFC on FX: Bisping vs. Belfort –
Preliminaries (3-3-1) Main Card (2-2) Overall (5-5-1)
Strikeforce: Marquardt vs. Saffiedine –
Preliminaries (5-1) Main Card (4-1) Overall (9-2)
UFC 155: Velasquez vs. dos Santos –
Preliminaries (6-1) Main Card (0-5) Overall (6-6)
UFC on FOX 5: Henderson vs. Diaz –
Preliminaries (2-5) Main Card (3-1) Overall (5-6)
UFC 154: St-Pierre vs. Condit
Preliminaries (5-2) Main Card (2-3) Overall (7-5)
UFC on FUEL TV: Franklin vs. Cung Le –
Preliminaries (1-2) Main Card (4-1) Overall (5-3)
UFC 153: Silva vs. Bonnar –
Preliminaries (5-1) Main Card (4-2) Overall (9-3)
UFC 149: Faber vs. Barao –
Preliminaries (4-2) Main Card (2-3) Overall (6-5)
UFC 148: Sliva vs. Sonnen II –
Preliminaries (3-2) Main Card (5-1) Overall (8-3)
UFC 146: Dos Santos vs Mir –
Preliminaries (4-3) Main Card (4-1) Overall (8-4)
UFC on FOX 2: Evans vs. Davis –
Main Card (3-0)
Preliminaries (42-24-1) Main Card (36-22) Overall (77-46-1)
Main Events (9-3)