Live from the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nev., this is National MMA Examiner Ryan McKinnell reporting cageside at UFC 156. The preliminary portion of the card has wrapped up and it's now time for the pay per view to kick off.
The night's main event features a showdown between UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo taking on former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar. Edgar versus Aldo is being billed as the year's first 'super fight' and that's absolutely correct -- these two know nothing about boring scraps, so expect a memorable showdown between these two superstars.
Also on the card is a heavyweight showdown between perennial kickboxing standout Alistair Overeem taking on fellow "Blackzillian" Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva. Overeem has been out for a year following a suspension for banned substances and a win over Silva will set him up for a showdown with UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez.
Many great fights litter this UFC 156 PPV card, so please, follow my live cageside report with your mobile device or PC. Enjoy the fights!
Joseph Benavidez vs. Ian McCall
RD1: Both of these flyweights are coming off losses to division champ, Demetrious Johnson, so it will be interesting as to how this fight plays out. Both fighters are high energy and have given fight fans more than their fair share of memorable fights. To begin the round both exchange leg kicks and jabs. About a minute in, they scramble during a clinch, both trying to earn a takedown but nothing happens, both end up back on their feet. Benavidez seems to be pressuring trying to back McCall up against the cage. More leg kicks from Benavidez -- perhaps part of the gameplan. Benavidez pins McCall against teh cage and rips a solid kick to the body that draws a reaction from the crowd at the Mandalay Bay. More pressure and leg kicks from Benavidez as he pressures. In an exchange Benavidez lands a stiff left hook that lands beautifully. McCall eats another leg kick and grimaces. Benavidez with more body kicks -- he's really pouring it on. Still sixty seconds left in the roundand plenty of action to be had. Benavidez tries the body kick again and McCall counters with a sweeping hook. Benavidez continues to go in and out and pepper McCall with a varied attack as the round ends. 10-9 Benavidez.
RD2: McCall turns and screams at the fans in the arena, "COME ON!" He's right, the crowd is a bit dead considering how fast paced this fight is. Benavidez got cut at the top of his head to end round one, and his face is streaming a bit of blood to open round two. McCall pressuring now, and is looking to set a pace. Benavidez looking for storming hooks as McCall comes in. Benavidez unleashes a nice hook/leg kick combo and then backs away quickly. Benavidez's speed and angles are not to be trifled with. Benavidez rushes McCall and secures a body lock, looking to drag his opponent to the mat. McCall does a great job at posting up and secruing a base, and avoid the potential takedown. Although getting out-struck, McCall is still standing tall and confident -- he is getting beat, though. Benavidez slips during a combo attempt and McCall takes dominant position on the ground. McCall takes his back with forty-seconds left in the round. McCall punching from the back as Benavidez manages to post on one knee and get back to the feet. Despite the late takedown, I still give the round to Benavidez. 10-9 Benavidez.
RD3: Round three sees both fighters go back and forth. Benavidez pressures with more leg kicks and combo punching as McCall pressures looking for a takedown or something to chane the momentum. In the end it's not enough. 10-9 Benavidez
[Official Decision: Joseph Benavidez def. Ian McCall via unanimous decision (29-28,29-28, 29-28)]
Jon Fitch vs. Demian Maia
RD1: Maia shoots right away, rips Fitch to the mat, and has his back. Fitch now standing, with Maia gripping his back in a body triangle. What a view this is cageside. Maia looking to sink in the RNC, Fitch tucking his chin and hand fighting. Fitch still standing with Maia snaking his back -- this has to be at least 60 seconds that he's been doing this. Brazilian's erupt with chants for Maia. They literally sound like the only one's in attendance. At the 2:30 mark, Maia finally lets go and hits the mat for the first time all round, basically. Still clinching Fitch with a body lock, Maia looks to drag him to the canvas. Maia successfully takes Fitch down & is pummeling him with knees to the body. 10-9 Maia.
RD2: Fitch opens round two popping his jab and snapping off some leg kicks. Fitch looks ready to battle in round two. Just as I type that, Maia grabs a leg and drags Fitch to the mat. Fitch works quickly to sweep and they're back to the feet. As I type that, Maia once again rips Fitch to the mat and takes his back with Fitch on one knee. Snaking Fitch's back, now, Maia is relentless with the peppering ground strikes and is dominating this second frame. Fitch looks totally helpless. Round two is all Maia, 10-9.
RD3: Fitch opens the final frame with a wild head kick that misses. Maia is now locked up with Fitch and has him clinched against the cage. Maia is showing real, pure brute strength in this performance. It's looking to be another big win for Maia at his new weight class of 170 lbs. Maia rolls with Fitch and takes him to the mat. Fitch scrambles and their back to standing. Maia shoot and Fitch sprawls successfully for one of the first times. During the sprawl Fitch takes Maia down in dominant position and hits him with some stiff punches. The round ends with Maia on Fitch's back. 10-9 Maia.
[Official Decision: Demian Maia def. Jon Fitch via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)]
Alistair Overeem vs. Antonio Silva
RD1: Overeem opens feigning hooks to Silva's face. He seems to be letting him know he wants to strike with him...Overeem ducking and weaving looking to open Silva up. Fighters clinch and then separate. Silva throws a leg kick at the four minute mark, and that was the first strike of the fight. Overeem comes in to strike and they clinch again. Overeem clinched with SIlva now, as he grinds himinto the cage. They separate and Overeem continues to stalk. Silva throws a hook/high kick combo that Overeem easily moves away from -- Silva looks comparatively slow when striking with Overeem. They clinch against the cage and separate shortly after. Not a lot happening thus far. Overeem lands a clean right hook that backs Silva up -- best strike so far. Silva throws a straight right, and Overeem easily dodges. The rest of the round is lackluster. 10-9 Overeem.
RD2: Overeems stalks Silva to open the round and closes quickly. Popping his jab and keeping his hands low, Overeem looks confident. Overeem gets inside and earns a trip takedown on Silva and is now in side control looking to pass. Silva lands some short, grazing elbows to Overeem from the bottom -- not super powerful, but they could open a cut if they get through. Overeem now in Silva's guard landing punches to the body and head. Overeem postures and lands a thudding straight punch to Silva's abdomen. You could hear that one very clear from cageside, it definitely hurt. Overeem continues to stay in Silva's guard and work methodically. It isn't pretty, but it's winning him the rounds. Back to standing as the round ends, and Silva lands some huge knees from the clinch that wobble Overeem. 10-9 Overeem.
RD3: Overeem comes out tired in round three and Silva sticks him with a myriad of punches. Overeem buckles against the cage and Silva finishes it off!
[Official Decision: Antonio Silva def. Alistair Overeem via TKO at :25 of round three]
Rashad Evans vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
RD1: One minute into the opening frame and Evans lands the first shot -- a body kick to Nogueira's ribs. Both fighters are pawing at one another, but no action to speak of. The crowd boos as we enter two minutes passed in the round. Nogueira lands a stiff jab that backs Evans up. A nice hook/straight combo from Nogueira, as he continues to work the standup nicely. Nogueira popping Evans as he controls the cage. A very impressive round for Nogueira thus far. Evans finally lands a strong punch -- a right hook -- that stuns Nogueira. Apparently the strike wasn't enough to keep him from pressuring, though, as Nogueira walks him down. Evans shoots a strong double leg and earns a takedown with 45-seconds left in the round. Nogueira gets back to his feet before the round ends. Really tough round to score, as Evans came on in the last minute. 10-9 Nogueira.
RD2: Nogueira pops a jab/jab/straight left combo a few seconds into the second round. Nogueira pressuring as Evans takes it easy. Another strong punch from Nogueira lands and he's turning it up. If Evans is planning on stealing these rounds late, he may want to rethink his strategy. Evans swings some wild punches and misses. Nogueira with a counter straight left that connects. Evans shoots, but Nogueira quickly stuffs his attempt -- that right there, is huge. More punches from Nogueira. The momentum is seemingly on Nogueira's side and I have to be honest, I didn't see this coming. Evans is bleeding from the mouth as Nogueira continues to lash him with jabs and straights. Another straight left from Nogueira lands stiffly. Evans shoots a single leg but Nogueira is right back up and they exchange in a flurry. This fight is getting good -- at least the possible narrative is. Overhand right from Evans clips Nogueira on the nose, but he continues to walk forward. Evans throws a head kick at the end of the round, but it doens't land. He may be down two rounds. 10-9 Nogueira.
RD3: Nogueira opens with more jabs and is trying to control the final frame. Evans rushes in with a flurry and briefly has Nogueira on his toes. Evans is fighting this round like he should have every other round -- with urgency. Nogueira pops a jab and ducks an Evans counter with supreme technical prowess. Nogueira's boxing is looking very smooth and controlled. Nogueira takes an eye poke from Evans and the action is briefly halted. Evans swings wildly and whiffs a takedown. It sure seems as if Nogueira has this fight right where he wants it. More wild exchanges from both fighters are Nogueira is more than happy to oblige Evans in the standup department. Evans eats a 1/2 combo from Nogueira. The round ends with the fighters in the clinch exchanging. 10-9 Nogueira.
[Official Decision: Antonio Rogerio Nogueira def. Rashad Evans via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)]
Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar
RD1: Edgar opens fast and hard looking to strike. Aldo remains calm and poised. Crowd alternates "Frankie!!" and "Al-do!" chants. Big uppercut from Aldo just misses Edgar's chin. Aldo lands a stiff jab. Edgar tries a leg kick and Aldo counters with a straight right -- textbook. More solid jabs from Aldo batter Egar's face. More jabs from Aldo and they're becoming more effective. Edgar is sick of taking the jabs so he rushes in with a flurry. Edgar's nose begins to redden and drip blood. Aldo continues with the stellar jab work. Leg kick/jab combo from Aldo and it's more of the same. Edgar with a combo followed by a body kick, but Aldo remains unfazed. 10-9 Aldo.
RD2: Aldo blasts a 1-2 combo to open the second round and sends Edgar's sweat falling to the mat. Aldo wearing a smirk across his face as he stalks Edgar. Overhand right from Aldo just misses its mark. Both fightersland hooks in a brief flurry -- something bad could have come out of that, but both remain standing. Chopping leg kick from Aldo buckles Edgar and it's beginning to look like a Jose Aldo title fight. Another leg kick sends Edgar to the ground, but he quickly scrambles back to his feet. Those kicks are adding up, though. Edgar rushes in for a combo and Aldo looks to come over the top. Aldo lands a brutal jumping knee, almost while standing straight up, right on Edgar's chin -- the crowd roars in approval. Edgar takes advantage of a wild Aldo and briefly has a takedown, however, Aldo gets right back up. Aldo with a double jab that snaps Edgar's head back as the round ends. 10-9 Aldo.
RD3: Edgar earns a quick takedown to start, but Aldo scrambles right back to his feet. Edgar pressuring as he lands a 1-2 combo that ends with an uppercut. Edgar with a swift counter left hook. Aldo lands a kick to Edgar's face that may have broken his nose -- the blood is more red, and it's flowing heavily. Lead left hook from Aldo lands. A brisk flurry by Edgar lands and backs Aldo up, briefly. Counter right from Edgar clips Aldo on the chin as he was looking to avoid it but couldn't. Round ends, and it's a tough one to call. 10-9 Edgar.
RD4: Edgar opening with combos and leg kicks, he looks good. Aldo whiffs on a hook. Edgar popping his jab as he looks to manuever inside. Edgar shoots, Aldo sprawls and they engage in a wild flurry agains the cage, nothing lands with any significance. Edgar pressures and lands a stiff left hook. Edgar gets a body lock and slams Aldo to the canvas, however, Aldo pops right back up per usual. Edgar keeps the body lock, takes his back, and begins to land knees to the thighs of Aldo. Leg kick lands for Edgar. Crowd chants, "USA! USA! USA!" as the round ends. 10-9 Edgar.
RD5: Edgar is puffy around the face and looks beaten up, but he's in this fight in a big way. Edgar opens with pressure and looks to set the pace for the final roun. Cracking leg kick from Edgar lands. Solid counter right hook lands for Edgar. Stiff jab for Aldo backs Edgar up. Straight right from Edgar clips Aldo. Spinning back kick from Edgar lands softly to Aldo's sternum. Left hooks from Aldo land as Edgar rushes in. Edgar is looking to take Aldo down, but it's not happening, Aldo is too quick. Edgar in and out looking to back Aldo up against the cage but Aldo stays calm and looks for his counter. Edgar really turning it up now, he feels the urgency. Wild exchange as both fighters land solid shots. The round ends with Aldo popping off the cage with a superman punch! Very creative! 10-9 Aldo.
[Official Decision: Jose Aldo def. Frankie Edgar via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 48-47)]