Jose Aldo deserves to be recognized alongside Anderson Silva, Georges St-Pierre, and Jon Jones as one of the dominant forces in the UFC.
The Brazilian standout successfully defended his featherweight title with a unanimous-decision win over Frankie Edgar in the main event of UFC 156 on Saturday night, notching his fourth straight win in the Octagon, 12th consecutive victory between the UFC and WEC, and 15th straight win overall.
In the early stages of the fight, Aldo used his pinpoint accuracy to pick Edgar apart, connecting with blistering punches that snapped the former lightweight champion’s head back, and landing several of his patented thunderous leg kicks. Through the first 10 minutes, Aldo had Edgar marked up and bloody, and he continued the onslaught as the bout continued.
Aldo started the third by connecting with a front kick to Edgar’s face, starting a steady drip of blood from the New Jersey native’s clearly broken nose. Though the champion started to slow and the challenger was able to start landing with more frequency, Aldo continued to pick away with precision.
It was more of the same in the fourth and fifth, with Edgar having his moments, including a strong slam late in the fourth. Unfortunately for “The Answer,” he had none for Aldo. Edgar was never able to keep his Brazilian opponent on the canvas, and could not muster enough sustained offence to really trouble the champion.
When the scores were read, they all favoured Aldo, with two judges scoring it 49-46 (which is also how FightMetric assessed the fight based on more effective striking in each round but the fourth).
Having now dispatched the former lightweight champion, it will be interesting to see what comes next for Aldo. While there are a number of up-and-coming talents queuing up for their opportunities, none carry the same kind of marketability as Edgar, leading to an uneven risk/reward equation for the champion.
Edgar is in a precarious position as well, having now lost three straight. All three have been close, hard-fought decisions, but he’s probably looking at a long road back to title contention at featherweight if he opts to stick around his new division long term.
While not the concussive finish he earned against Chad Mendes last January, this was a signature win for Aldo, and one that should put him at the table with Silva, GSP, and Jones as the clear elite in the sport today.
Also earning a big statement win was Antonio Silva.
The massive Brazilian known as “Bigfoot” told Alistair Overeem he better start respecting him on Thursday at Media Day. Saturday night, Silva made Overeem respect him, knocking out the hyped heavyweight with a series of serious shots early in the third to send the division into upheaval.
Overeem controlled things in the opening two rounds, getting the better of the striking exchanges, and earning a takedown in the second, where he was able to land some solid ground-and-pound on Silva. At the horn, Overeem shoved Silva off him, and looked thoroughly unimpressed with his opponent. Less than 90 seconds later, he would be asleep on the canvas.
Both men dipped for a takedown to start the third, and Silva landed as both came up, wobbling Overeem, and sending him back into the cage. From there, the Brazilian opened up, throwing heavy hands, connecting with force as Overeem went out on his feet. Two bombs later, Overeem toppled, and Silva celebrated.
The impressive win may well earn him the biggest opportunity of his career, as a matchup with the champion Cain Velasquez — as unlikely as that may have seemed before the bout — could very well be next.
At the other end of the scale, former light-heavyweight champion Rashad Evans may have lost out on a major opportunity with an extremely disappointing performance in his loss to Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.
With a possible matchup with middleweight champion Anderson Silva on the table, his co-main event bout turned into a boxing match, and honestly, was a pretty tepid affair.
Evans and Nogueira spent 15 minutes pitty-pat boxing with each other, neither man landing anything of great significance, neither really asserting their dominance as the fight went the distance. Evans landed the one takedown of the fight late in the first, but Nogueira landed the cleaner strikes over the course of the contest to earn the unanimous decision win.
It was a curious fight for Evans, who strayed from his wrestling base in favour of boxing the former Pan-Am Games gold medalist Nogueira. Over the final two frames, “Lil Nog” was able to edge out Evans in terms of volume to earn the victory, bringing the potential of an Evans-Silva middleweight title fight to a screeching halt.
While two Brazilians on Saturday’s UFC 156 main card had standout wins, Evans had a major letdown in a loss to another.