Jose Aldo defends featherweight title
Brett Okamoto [ARCHIVE]
ESPN.com
February 3, 2013
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LAS VEGAS -- Whether or not Jose Aldo cemented his place alongside the likes of Anderson Silva, Georges St-Pierre and Jon Jones this weekend is debatable, but he did conquer his greatest challenge to date.
Aldo successfully defended the UFC featherweight title for the fourth time Saturday, defeating former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar via unanimous decision in the main event of UFC 156 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.
An accurate portrayal of the fight was perhaps the fact that Edgar was never out of it, but Aldo was always in control. Judges scored the contest 49-46, 49-46 and 48-47. ESPN scored it 48-47.
"It was a difficult fight," said Aldo, through a translator. "Frankie Edgar is a great fighter. I knew I had to work step-by-step, round-by-round."
Aldo (22-1) jumped to a commanding lead early. It was immediately clear the speed advantage Edgar enjoyed when competing at 155 pounds was gone. Aldo landed a quick left jab almost at will and bloodied Edgar's nose with a straight right.
The Brazilian's confidence grew in the second round, especially after stuffing an Edgar takedown. Edgar (15-4-1) did surprise him by catching a leg kick and firing a counter right, but Aldo recovered quickly and went on to win the round.
One of the hardest shots of the fight came in the third, when Aldo planted a front kick straight to Edgar's face. The blood that had trickled out in the first started to pour at that point. By the fourth round, Edgar's left eye was nearly swelled shut.
That didn't stop the New Jersey native, though. Edgar continued to move forward in the fourth and fifth rounds, mixing in uppercuts and tagging Aldo multiple times with a right hand at the tail end of combinations. He brought the crowd to its feet with a huge body slam in the fourth round, his first clean takedown of the fight.
Edgar continued to grow stronger in the final round, but Aldo found answers when he needed to. The 26-year-old champion ended the fight with a spectacular Superman punch, which he vaulted himself into by jumping off the cage.
It was yet another Edgar title fight that went the distance. Unlike a controversial loss to Ben Henderson at UFC 150, however, it did appear Edgar came up short.
"It was a close fight," Edgar said. "I keep finding myself in these situations. It is what it is. Congrats to Jose."
Evans drops the ball against Nogueira
Rashad Evans won't fight middleweight champion Anderson Silva any time soon. Not after dropping a decision to Silva's teammate, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.
Nogueira outclassed Evans in their light heavyweight bout. The Brazilian defended key takedown attempts while landing effective combinations, especially in the third round. All three judges scored the bout in his favor, 29-28.
"I think that this is one of my biggest victories because Rashad Evans is a big champion," Nogueira said. "I just trained very hard and I came with good boxing and great wrestling. I was able to make it hard for him to take me down."
Fighting for the first time since a unanimous decision loss to 205-pound champion Jon Jones at UFC 145, Evans looked tentative throughout the 15-minute fight. He managed to win the first round based on level changes and a well-timed takedown on a lead hook by Nogueira, but failed to carry any of that momentum further.
After giving up the one takedown in the opening frame, Nogueira showed tremendous takedown defense against one of the best wrestlers in the division.
He continually walked Evans down with two-punch combinations. By the third round, Evans seemed bothered by considerable swelling over his left eye.
The Las Vegas crowd grew restless multiple times throughout the fight. The lack of action was usually attributable to Evans, who seemed uncomfortable letting his hands go and attempted few takedowns even when it was clear he was behind.
Nogueira (21-5) has now won back-to-back fights after losing two in a row for the first time in his career. The losses both came via decision to Ryan Bader and Phil Davis.
Silva storms back, topples Overeem
Antonio Silva screaming at an unconscious Alistair Overeem is a moment few will soon forget.
Silva shocked the world on Saturday, knocking out the heavily favored (and cocky) Overeem 25 seconds into the third round of their heavyweight bout.
He stunned Overeem with a series of short punches in the clinch before uncorking a heavy flurry along the fence. Basically out on his feet from two right uppercuts, Overeem finally fell to the floor as referee Herb Dean dragged Silva away.
Silva resisted Dean at first, not to continue hitting Overeem but to scream at him. The loss snapped a 12-fight unbeaten streak for Overeem.
"After I knocked him out, I was yelling at him, 'Let's go, I want more!' " Silva said.
Silva warned Overeem to start showing respect in the buildup to the fight. His words, clearly, went unheard, as Overeem literally danced his way to the Octagon.
The former Strikeforce champion, making his first appearance since December 2011 due to a failed drug test, had been promised a title shot against Cain Velasquez with a win on Saturday.
That title shot looked safe early in the fight. Showing no respect for Silva's striking, Overeem kept his hands low in the opening round. He tagged him with a counter right hand late in the round as Silva threw a body kick.
The second round continued to go Overeem's way. He threw Silva to the floor after a lengthy clinch in the center of the cage and spent the majority of the frame throwing punches and elbows from top position, although Silva defended himself well.
Silva, apparently, saved his offense for the final round. The crowd started to roar when Overeem staggered back from the first shots and went into a full frenzy as Silva unloaded against the cage.
"It really bothered me [that] he hasn't respected me in interviews," Silva said. "He talked a lot of trash, and I told him that I'd make him respect me tonight."
Maia grinds his way past Fitch
Jon Fitch showcased terrific submission defense in a welterweight bout against Demian Maia -- unfortunately, that's the only thing he showcased.
Many wondered how Fitch's wrestling would stack up against the world-class Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills of Maia. They certainly got their answer on Saturday, as Maia dominated Fitch for an entire 15 minutes.
From the opening bell, Maia refused to allow Fitch to breathe. In the same manner he dispatched welterweights Rick Story and Dong Hyun Kim, Maia closed the distance, shot a single leg and went about improving position.
He took Fitch's back in every round, in which he consistently locked the veteran welterweight in a body triangle he was helpless to escape. Fitch was successful in thwarting multiple attempts at a rear-naked choke, but managed no offense.
"The game plan was to control him," Maia said. "I...
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