For many, the significance attached to the morning of February 2nd revolves around the appearance of a Groundhog’s shadow, which supposedly predicts the arrival of spring.
This time around, the evening of said date will carry a different meaning. In a Las Vegas burrow known as the Mandalay Bay Events Center, there will be multiple groundhog sightings. What separates these beasts from the aforementioned groundhog is they have rare abilities. Some know how to ground and pound…some even wrestle. And others, they’re experts in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
To see these species in action, network television won’t cut it. These animals can only been seen on Pay Per View, courtesy of UFC 156.
The main card is stacked with five bouts, sure to bring forth memories of Groundhog’s Day never before experienced. Did I mention four of the five bouts feature a Brazilian? Without further ado, here we go:
The parallels between these two flyweights are unreal. Both let their hands go, they’re excellent wrestlers and are advocates of the “ground-and-pound”. Their final similarity, which haunts them most, is their last loss, which came at the hands of current Flyweight champion Demetrious “Might Mouse” Johnson. Here’s where they differ! Benavidez knows what it is to win in the UFC. McCall, with a draw and loss in his two-fight, UFC tenure, does not. Desperation, along with his skill set helps “Uncle Creepy” get his first win inside the octagon.
Big ups to UFC matchmaker Joe Silva for pairing these two together. With an execution rate of 43%, Demian Maia is UFC’s second most successful submission artist…historically! On the flip side, Jon Fitch epitomizes submission defense, escaping all 25 serious submissions attempted upon him. Is there a better way to grab the attention of submission enthusiasts than this? No doubt, these two will push each other to the limits. While neither of them are known for their striking prowess, Fitch is slightly better in that department and it’s that advantage that should give him the edge here.
Alistair “The Reem” Overeem vs. Antonio “Big Foot” Silva (Heavyweight Division Bout)
Antonio Silva is one of the most imposing figures in the UFC. His ground-and-pound has been a key to success. He’s one of those guys you can’t help but root for. All the cheering in the world, won’t be enough to help him against an even more imposing being in Alistair Overeem, who begins his road to redemption this Saturday night. The problem is, Silva won’t be able to use what he knows best because he won’t be able to get Overeem to the ground in order to pound him. Silva’s a solid stand up striker, but he’s not as well versed in the stand up game as Overeem is. His toying with Brock Lesnar at UFC 141 speaks on how deadly of a striker he is. Silva will not roll over and just give the fight away, but the embarrassment from the Performance Enhancement Drug (PED) scandal and his desire to become the only heavyweight to win a championship in three separate organizations will help “The Reem” overwhelm “Big Foot”. He’ll very likely live up to his Pride Fighting moniker as “The Demolition Man”.
“Suga” Rashad Evans vs. Antonio Rogerio “Little Nog” Noguiera (Light Heavyweight Division Bout)
Two former champions look to return to championship glory at the other’s expense. Rashad Evans is chomping at the bit for a rematch with Jon “Bones” Jones. Before he can attempt exacting revenge on his former training partner, Antonio Rogerio Noguiera is next on his agenda. There are only few UFC fighters that can successfully make the conversion into boxing and Noguiera is one of them. The Brazilian medaled as a former amateur boxer. He issues belts to protégés that study Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under him; which indicates his level of expertise in that art. Evans is an All-American collegiate wrestler. His striking is good, but isn’t comparable to Noguiera’s. With Noguiera’s solidified boxing and ground submissions, this is the kind of fight that leaves Evans between a rock and hard place. The choice here is Evans, but if “Suga” wants to have a sweet night out, he has to be as elusive as possible. In doing that, he must use constant head movement while striking with “Little Nog”, change levels with head and body, and finally use his takedowns/wrestling, without making himself vulnerable to any ground submissions.
Jose Aldo Jr. vs. Frankie “The Answer” Edgar (Featherweight Title Bout)
With six consecutive title bouts between 2010 and 2012, Frankie Edgar is no stranger to the main event. No fighter in the sport envelops the spirit of “The Little Engine That Could” better than “The Answer”. He’s been hit with devastating blows, he kept on ticking. He’s been knocked down, he got back up. He’s been under duress, and somehow, he found a way out and emerged to display a “never say die” attitude. Unfortunately, Edgar lost his last two bouts against Lightweight king Benson “Smooth” Henderson. As a result, Edgar has shed a few pounds to join the ranks of the Featherweight division. His debut won’t be a pretty one. I understand marketing and developing a following, but with two consecutive losses in title bouts, many will argue that Edgar got a title shot too soon. No doubt, this will be a fight to remember. When it’s all said and done, Aldo will show and prove Edgar should’ve taken a few tune-up fights before hurling stones at the throne. Aldo’s rapid and diverse strikes, along with his takedown defense will leave Edgar in a place of bewilderment, which will ultimately lead to a three-fight losing streak for the former Lightweight champion.
My forecast of UFC 156 is not to say this is how the card will actually go down. It’s possible that the Brazilians will have a clean sweep this Saturday night. One thing’s for certain, with five main event caliber fights on deck, this card rivals the upcoming UFC 158 main card where three welterweight championship implicated bouts are scheduled.
As always, have a safe weekend, enjoy the fights and make you way back here to TNP Sports for a full recap of these developments.
By Antoine Hoffman