Welcome fight fans to UFC 156! We’re live-ish from Inside Fights HQ in Chicago, IL, where I’m in the midst of a late snowfall as per the season. We’ll be hear all night from the first fight to the last. Stay tuned for live play by play of the FX fights and stay with us for the rest of the evening. You can click here to see everything that happened on the Facebook and FX portions of this card
Main card (PPV):
Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar (Featherweight Title)
Rashad Evans vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
Alistair Overeem vs. Antonio Silva
Jon Fitch vs. Demian Maia
Joseph Benavidez vs. Ian McCall
Joseph Benavidez vs. Ian McCall
Round 1: Both guys come out winging leg kicks early as McCall goes for a takedown but Benavidez with a beautiful defense. He also cracks McCall with an elbow for his troubles. These guys are winging kicks at each other; McCall gets hit down low but doesn’t need any time to recover. They trade some haymakers as Benavidez lands a big left and McCall is a bit rocked. Second nut shot and McCall will take time to recover.
Replay shows that it was an errant knee that clipped McCall’s groin.
Back to the action and Benavidez lands a big left. His boxing looks amazing tonight; he’s looking to throw tonight instead of set up his takedowns. McCall is not expecting this but he’s getting fired up. Benavidez lands a right to punctuate it. Benavidez hits to the inside and that was almost a groin shot again. Benavidez is landing some amazing combinations; McCall’s chin is something else. McCall lands a knee and Benavidez counters with a left hook of his own. Benavidez is looking to trade, not grapple, and McCall is willing to oblige him. McCall is finding his timing now as his movement is getting better. He landing a nice right that’s cut Benavidez open. Lands a nice kick and Benavidez slips, McCall stalks him as the round ends.
Round 2: Benavidez looks so much faster than him it’s something to behold. McCall is landing some nice strikes as Benavidez lands a nice kick to the body. McCall has his timing down now and is starting to look a lot better. Benavidez’s athletic ability is on such a higher plane, though, that McCall has to fight smart. Benavidez isn’t looking to outpoint him; he wants to finish him. McCall is more than willing to oblige him as he’s looking fro a big counter. Benavidez is beating him to the punch right now; McCall is landing on the counter but Benavidez is out working him. McCall goes for the takedown but Benavidez out maneuevers him into the cage. Benavidez walks back out. McCall is trying to get inside and Benavidez is timing him; he’s landing and getting out before McCall can throw something like an uppercut. Benavidez’s striking is a bit less technical. Benavidez gets ROCKED from a nice uppercut by McCall and McCall’s on top, hammer fisting him down. McCall in the mount and then into back control, Benavidez scrambles out to his feet but McCall is on him. McCall lands a nice knee as Benavidez is hanging on for dear life. Round ends and now it’s interesting.
McCall 10-9, 19-19
Round 3: Benavidez lands early with a nice right as McCall is smiling. McCall goes for a takedown and has Benavidez against the cage. Benavidez exits quickly and he throws a nice body kick. McCall has done some impressive work on the leg; Benavidez is backing off as soon as McCall throws something with power. Benavidez gets McCall against after dropping him with a kick; some nice strikes on the exit. Benavidez is back to working his movement and his speed right now; he seems a step faster than McCall right now. McCall is looking for another big combination and Benavidez is getting out before he can land it. McCall with a beauty of a double and Benavidez is up quickly.
That could mean much more when all is said and done.
A nice liver shot from Benavidez as these guys are at full throttle with 90 seconds left. Benavidez goes back to keeping his distance from McCall; he’s not risking another takedown. As soon as McCall goes for one with 50 seconds left he sprints away. He’s content to out point him in the final minute as McCall is nearly telegraphing that takedown.Another one with 20 seconds that goes nowhere as McCall has been eating some punishment on the exit.
Benavidez 10-9, 29-28
Official Decision: 29-28 x3 for Benavidez
Jon Fitch vs. Demian Maia
Round 1: Maia comes out and immediatley with a double leg on Fitch. Beautiful trip down and grabs back. Maia’s on his back and this is the fun part. Maia has a triangle around the body but that’s not going to be a huge deal until it’s to the ground. Maia wants that choke as he’s working his striking game to get it. Fitch is defending it well but he’s carrying Maia’s weight on him, too. That has to be taxing after a while. Maia’s looking to work that RNC but Fitch is defending it well. Fitch is playing wrist control really well right now. Maia drops to his feet and tries to drag him to the ground and then trips him down, jumps to his back and Maia tries to go for it again. Maia is trying to break him down and Fitch is doing a great job at defense right now. Goes for the choke again and Fitch’s submission defense is absolutely sublime right now. Maia’s grappling credentials are among the best in BJJ, much less MMA, and Fitch is fighting him off. Fitch is on his knees and Maia’s trying to break him down but Fitch is keeping him from anything substantial.
Round 2: Fitch comes out looking to throw as Maia wants to get this to the ground again. Maia with a deep single again and he goes for the pass quickly. Fitch is on his back for the first time in a long time and Fitch uses the scramble to get back up. Maia drags him to the ground and he’s on his back again. Fitch presses Maia against the cage as Maia is looking to finish a rear naked choke. Fitch’s hand control and wrist defense is special right now. Maia goes to a body triangle as he’s working him over right now. Maia goes palm to palm on the choke and he’s defending it beautifully some more. This is spectacular submission defense from Fitch; no one lasts this long with someone as masterful as Maia on their back. Maia’s looking for full back mount and Fitch is just trying to survive right now. I’m completely floored by Fitch’s ability survive this assault from Maia. Fitch is trying to spin into top position but Maia’s control is exceptional. Round ends with Maia going for the finish and unable to secure it.
Maia 10-8, 20-17
Round 3: Fitch’s corner has told him to go and leave it all out there. He has to finish to win and throws a high kick. Maia on the other hand has other thoughts and grabs a single leg and grabs back control some more. Maai’s looking to get him to the ground some more and Fitch’s takedown defense is better this round. It’s not that difficult to think that Maia could take Fitch down; he laterally dropped Chael Sonnen (he of the best wrestling in MMA) with ease. Maia drags him to the ground, hooks in and Fitch is back where he’s been all fight. Maia rolls through as Fitch is trying to get up and can’t. Fitch gets back up and we’re back standing Maia with a deep shot and Maia is in deep. Leg lace but can’t pull him down. Fitch has a guillotine in and Maia rolls to his back, Maia eats a big elbow. Maia out-grapples Fitch on the way up and has the back some more. He’s trying to drag Fitch down to the ground again and Fitch is fighting him off. This is desperation time for Fitch and Maia is content to ride it out. Fitch to the middle of the cage and Maia takes a single, turns it into a double and gets Fitch to the ground. Maia with back control and we’re back to Maia in back control, hooks in, looking for a rear naked choke. Fitch rolls to his back and they trade some strikes on the ground to end the round.
10-9 Maia, 30-26 Maia
Official Decision: Maia 30-27 x3
Alistair Overeem vs. Antonio Silva
Round 1: Overeem looks significantly less muscular than the guy who thumped Brock Lesnar a year ago. He also just shattered Melvin Guillard’s super-confident cage entrance from UFC 136 as well.
Overeem comes out as Bigfoot looks significantly bigger than Overeem, something I didn’t think was possible. Not a lot of action to start as Overeem grabs the clinch and starts to work his knee game. Bigfoot wants none of that, of course, and circles out. Another clinch and Bigfoot is looking to work a takedown on the K-1 champion. He lets go for a moment and goes right back to it. Overeem is working knees to the body as Silva goes to set up a takedown and Overeem backs out. Silva goes for a takedown and back to the clinch, Overeem in control and looking to work that knee game some more. Overeem backs out as Silva gets closer to a takedown. Overeem with a nice combination followed by a nice knee to the body. Overeem is daring Silva to stand with him at this point as he has his hands down, chin up. Another clinch from Overeem and we’re against the cage. Overeem backs out and Silva cracks him, Overeem walks right through it. He’s looking to set up a wheel kick, like the one he knocked out Leko with in K-1, but he’s telegraphing it too much.
Round 2: Overeem comes out more aggressive; this is the first second round Overeem has seen in some time. Slugfest to start and Overeem launches Silva into side control. Overeem eats some big elbows from the bottom as Overeem backs out, Bigfoot looking to use his guard. Overeem is lighting him up with some ground and pound to the body. Silva is looking to work a submission off his back but Overeem’s posture is really strong right now. Overeem’s ground and pound just sounds vicious right now; he’s landed some big strikes as Silva is looking to survive right now. Silva’s looking for a hip escape and Overeem is using his top positional game to control him. Silva is trying to work his way back up but whenever he gives some space up Overeem is lighting him up. He’s trying to set up a triangle right now but Overeem is defending well. Overeem stand up and we’re back to the feet. Big uppercut from Silva and a nice knee out of the clinch. Overeem shrugged it off, though.
Overeem 10-9, 20-18
Round 3:Silva goes for the takedown and can’t finish it but Silva is starting to turn it on. Bigfoot unloads on Overeem and Overeem IS OUT. Bigfoot Silva with the upset of the night, maybe of the year, as Bigfoot Silva wins via TKO at :24 of the third round.
Bigfoot Silva wins via TKO (strikes) at :24 of the third round.
Rashad Evans vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
Round 1: Not a lot of action in the first minute as Rashad seems to looking for his spot at a takedown. He has no qualms standing with him but Little Nog is waiting to counter. Rashad is showing the level change but looking to strike off it; he wants to get Nog’s hands down to land flush. Nog’s hands are fast though; he’s throwing some nice combinations on Rashad. I’m shocked Rashad hasn’t gone for a takedown yet; Nog has found his groove and distance. Rashad lands a beautiful right off a level change but Nog seems ok with it. Evans with a nice takedown but Little Nog is back up quickly and nearly lands a knee in the Thai clinch. Rashad back out quickly.
Little Nog 10-9 … but neither guy is doing much. Nog has just outlanded him by a small margin in quality strikes. Could see it for Evans no problem based on the takedown.
Round 2: Slow start to come out as both fighters are looking for the counter instead of being the aggressor. Nice combination from Little Nog as Evans counters with a nice leg kick. Rashad’s speed is significant here but Little Nog’s timing has been impeccable so far. Nog’s setting up straight lefts and catching him regularly off it. Rashad is parrying with his left and not doing anything to keep Nog from throwing that left. Nog’s boxing is something special right now; Rashad is either baffled by it or waiting to unload with something. Rashad with a nice combination of his own but Nog is landing. He’s not landing a lot of power strikes but he’s landing. Takedown from Rashad isn’t finished and Nog with some nice punches. Nog’s boxing looks great now; Rashad is almost hesitant to exchange at times.
Nog 10-9, 20-18 … but another exceptionally close round
Round 3: Rashad comes out more aggressive to start but he’s still parrying with his left. Nog is landing, not with a lot of power, but he’s landing. Nog’s timing is pretty good so far; Evans doesn’t look like he normally does. Rashad with a nice double jab and Nog follows up with a nice straight, and then a jab. Some more exchanges and Rashad eyepokes him on accident.
Time to bring in the doctor … and he’s ok.
Rashad comes out more aggressive as he’s faking level changes but Nog is landing some nice jabs and straight lefts. He’s even throwing kicks, which look ugly but are connecting. Evans with a bizarre takedown try that goes nowhere and we’re back to the same. Little Nog is landing some nice strikes as Evans just is having an off-night. Evans goes for the takedown one more time and back to our feet. Nog is walking him down and landing some more. Some more striking and this winds up as one of the stranger fights in either guy’s careers.
Nog 10-9, 30-27 … but any result wouldn’t shock me.
Official decision: 29-28 x3 Little Nog
Now for the main event … for the UFC Featherweight title
Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar
Round 1: Edgar with a leg kick to open it up and the crowd is behind him early. Frankie is throwing some punching combinations but Aldo is moving out of the way easy. Aldo is picking his spots as Edgar is looking to set a fast, rough space. So far Aldo’s movement is keeping him from getting hit. Edgar wanders in and eats a big uppercut for his troubles. Aldo is landing some big jabs as he’s found his timing early. Aldo’s power is something as he’s landing big shots on Frankie. Every time he hits Frankie the former lightweight champion is moving back. He wants none of that power and he didn’t do that against Gray Maynard or Benson Henderson, either. Says a lot. Edgar is looking for the takedown through the clinch and moving forward but Aldo is moving out of the way so well. Aldo’s boxing game is right on par with Frankie’s so far, which is impressive. He’s countering him so well and finally lands a leg kick with 40 seconds left. Frankie has taken a lot of punishment and it shows so far. Round ends with Aldo landing a nice head kick.
Round 2: Edgar comes out more aggressive this round and his left leg looks bad right now. Aldo lands a nice combination as Edgar is looking to make him fight in a phone booth to go for a takedown. Edgar is throwing a lot but not hitting a lot; Aldo is content to counter as he’s timing Edgar’s striking effectively. Edgar keeps wading in and Aldo is landing some big strikes. Edgar with a couple of takedown attempts and Aldo’s defense is stellar. The sound Aldo’s making when he connects on Frankie’s leg is horrifying. Lands a big one that drops Edgar to the ground temporarily. He’s wading in but Aldo is picking him apart right now; this is becoming a duplicate of Aldo vs. Urijah Faber in the only WEC PPV.
Edgar gets the clinch and goes for the takedown but Aldo shrugs him off again. Frankie catches the leg and lands a big shot, Aldo goes down and gets the takedown. Aldo’s immediately back up though. Aldo lands some nice jabs, though as he’s hitting him hard.
10-9 Aldo, 20-18 Aldo
Round 3: Frankie with a takedown early and Aldo back up like lightning. Frankie still has some bounce to his step despite getting lit up in that department. Both guys with some light striking as they’re not throwing heavy; Edgar eats a big front kick to the face that has broken his nose. Aldo is content to light him up and Edgar won’t go down. Edgar is landing some nice jabs but everything Aldo is hitting him with just sounds painful. He’s hitting Aldo but he’s not landing anything of consequence. Edgar’s accumulation style is effective but Aldo is landing big shots still. Edgar is landing some nice leg kicks; his movement while doing so is really good. Aldo is having a bit of a problem with his speed to some degree; he’s slowing down a little and Edgar is still putting a pace on him. Another takedown and he shook him off easily. Edgar with a nice right that lands flush. Closer than the first two but Aldo is still ahead.
10-9 Aldo, 30-27 Aldo
Round 4: Frankie is coming out with the same heavy pace. This is where he can win the fight; he’s still landing light strikes but he’s out landing Aldo still. Another big leg kick from Aldo as Edgar is looking good still. Edgar’s hand speed is impressive as he’s throwing quick combinations in succession; he’s not landing much but he’s throwing so much that Aldo is having to pick his spot to throw. Edgar with another takedown attempt that Aldo defends beautifully but he lands some nice punches while doing so. Frankie is making him work and is tiring him down. Nice left hook from Aldo; he looks to be tiring considerably but he’s still landing big shots on Edgar. Edgar goes for the takedown and grabs the back, Aldo slammed to the ground and Aldo springs back up. He won’t let go, though, as he starts kneeing the champion in the leg. Aldo’s ability to stay on his feet is something and Edgar eventually lets go to go back to the center. Another takedown try with 20 seconds left goes nowhere and Aldo flares up a knee that leaves Frankie moving backwards.
10-9 Edgar, 39-37 Aldo
Round 5: Edgar is pushing the pace some more and Aldo gets eye poked. No break as Aldo is fighting through it. Aldo comes out throwing much bigger. Edgar goes for a single almost in passing and Aldo shrugs it off. Edgar is throwing jabs at him but nothing’s connecting. Edgar goes to the clinch for the takedown, nothing happens and he lands a jab as he exits. Edgar’s pace is something to behold right now. Frankie is pushing the pace right now as Aldo is looking for a big counter. Edgar goes towards the clinch and a knee from him misses, Aldo with a nice hook. Edgar follows it with a nice combination. 90 seconds left and Edgar is throwing some nice leg kicks. Aldo with a nice counter combination that stuns Edgar momentarily. Edgar with a nice combination of his own. Aldo is looking to counter and keep it standing with 40 seconds left. The crowd is behind Frankie as he misses a head kick. Aldo with a superman punch off the cage to end the fight.
Edgar 10-9, Aldo 48-47
Official Decision: 49-46, 49-46, 48-47 Aldo