The world’s premier MMA promotion returned to Las Vegas for the first time in 2013 for UFC 156, which was held at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.

The night’s main event was a superfight for the UFC featherweight title between champion Jose Aldo and former lightweight king Frankie Edgar, who made his featherweight debut. The card also featured a heavyweight tilt with championship implications between Alistair Overeem and Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva as well as a light heavyweight contest in which former champion Rashad Evans fought Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.

The event featured a total of 11 fights, with the main card airing on pay-per-view and the preliminary fights split between FX and Facebook.

Aldo defends featherweight belt against Edgar

In the night’s main event, Jose Aldo successfully defended his UFC featherweight title with a win over Frankie Edgar, earning a unanimous-decision win in their five-round contest.

Aldo looked particularly impressive in the fight’s opening rounds, landing quick jabs and powerful leg kicks with impunity. He was also able to successfully stifle any takedown attempts from Edgar, save for one at the very end of the second. The next three rounds were not as dominant, however.

The champion’s offense slowed considerably beginning in round three, while Edgar began to turn his on more effectively. Aldo did land a nasty-looking high front kick that got Edgar’s nose bleeding, but Edgar also was able to land some hard punches and leg kicks in the frame. Edgar’s attack only intensified as the fight wore on, where Aldo appeared to adopt a more reserved, defensive-minded strategy.

The fourth round was the only one which was clearly won by Edgar. Pushing the pace as usual, Edgar was able to land strikes and even took Aldo to the mat, if only briefly. He seemed to ride this momentum into the final round, though the action was more evenhanded.

In the end, Aldo’s early-fight dominance was enough to earn him the decision and the continued position atop the featherweight division.

“Lil’ Nog” earns uneventful decision over Evans

It’s always bad when a fight is difficult to call because of a lack of action, but such was the case in the night’s co-main event between light heavyweights Rashad Evans and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. The judges ruled it for Nogueira, but it could probably have gone either way.

Neither fighter was able to put together a significant offensive attack, with Nogueira landing jabs and the occasional straight punch while avoiding Evans’ occasional takedown attempts. The most memorable part of the fight was an eye poke, which is never a good thing. Needless to say, this contest was not a contender for Fight of the Night.

“Bigfoot” upsets Overeem

Alistair Overeem was the overwhelming favorite coming into his fight with fellow heavyweight Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva, and for two rounds the fight went according to the script. Unfortunately for Overeem, the fight also had a third round.

Overeem spent most of the first round standing right in front of Silva with his hands at his hips, occasionally landing knees and punches to Silva’s body. In the second round, Overeem actually took Silva to the mat and landed several strikes from inside his guard. Referee Herb Dean stood the fighters up with 30 seconds left in the round, when Silva landed his first significant strike. It would not be his last.

After the fighters briefly tied up in the center of the Octagon to begin the final round, Silva began throwing—and landing—a number of powerful punches to Overeem’s head. The force behind those shots eventually had Overeem stumbling, and after Silva crumpled him with a punch, Dean ended the fight. The win over Overeem is the second significant upset for Silva, who also defeated Fedor Emelianenko during his Strikeforce tenure.

Maia dominates ground game against Fitch

Demian Maia notched his third victory in as many fights at welterweight with a dominant decision win over former title contender Jon Fitch. Maia, the multiple-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion, shot in for a takedown immediately after the fight begun, took Fitch down with ease and then took his back. Fitch was able to stand back up, but Maia remained attached to him piggy-back style. Eventually, Maia dismounted but quickly scored another takedown before the round ended.

Fitch tried to counteract Maia’s grappling in the second round by throwing some hard strikes, but Maia was again able to achieve a takedown inside the frame’s first minute. Like the first round, Maia spent the majority of the second on Jon Fitch’s back, working for but unable to successfully complete a choke—a credit to Fitch’s submission defense.

Fitch opened the last round with a head kick, but Maia ducked underneath and dragged him to the mat and took his back once more. Fitch briefly had a guillotine choke that looked somewhat promising, but Maia would escape and then reclaim his position on Fitch’s back.

The result was not in question, and all three judges scored the fight a unanimous decision for Maia.

Benavidez outpoints McCall

The pay-per-view portion of the card began with a fight between two of the four best flyweights in the world, Joseph Benavidez and Ian McCall. The opening round had the typical fast pace that fans have come to expect from 125-pounders, with both fighters throwing dozens of punches and leg kicks. Benavidez seemed to have the superior power, staggering McCall with a few punches in the opening round.

The second frame belonged to McCall, though. At one point, Benavidez shot for a takedown, but got clipped with a McCall punch in the process. McCall took advantage, quickly pouncing on Benavidez and landing several elbows in the process. Benavidez eventually made it back to his feet, but the exchange had clearly had a negative effect.

Benavidez seemed to get his bearings back in the final round, landing a hard right hand in the early portion of the period. While that would be as close as he would come to finishing McCall, Benavidez did control the action for the remainder of the fight.

The judges agreed, and awarded him a unanimous-decision victory.

Preliminary Card Summary

The de facto preliminary main event was a lightweight contest between Evan Dunham and Gleison Tibau. While neither fighter was able to finish his opponent, the bout was a back-and-forth affair that eventually saw Dunham emerge victorious by split decision. Tibau looked dangerous early in the fight, but his cardio seemed to wane in the later rounds. Dunham took advantage, repeatedly landing a stiff jab and controlling the action more effectively en route to his decision win.

Tyron Woodley didn’t even break a sweat in his quick knockout victory over fellow welterweight Jay Hieron. After landing an overhand right to knock Hieron down, Woodley swarmed, landing several unanswered shots to Hieron’s head before referee Herb Dean stepped in. Woodley gets his first UFC victory in just 36 seconds, and in explosive fashion.

Jacob Volkmann was 6-1 as a UFC lightweight, and was coming off a submission victory over Shane Roller. He met the debuting Bobby Green in the second FX fight. Volkmann stuck primarily to his grappling-centric style, attempting and achieving several takedowns early in the fight and clearly winning the first round. Green countered a takedown in the second period, however, and ended up landing several damaging elbows to Volkmann from the half-guard before the fighters were stood up in a questionable move by referee Kim Winslow. There was no doubt in the third round, though, as Green mounted Volkmann after the fight went to the ground and landed a number of critical blows before sinking in the rear-naked choke for the victory.

Yves Edwards and Isaac Vallie-Flagg put on an exciting fight to open the FX portion of the card, with Vallie-Flagg emerging victorious by split decision. The lightweights spent most of the fight standing, with both landing significant shots early in the contest. Edwards came perilously close to winning the fight by submission at the close of round two, but his conditioning seemed to fade in the final frame, which enabled Vallie-Flagg to pour on the strikes and gain the edge on the scorecards.

Dustin Kimura was very impressive in his UFC debut, defeating Chico Camus by submission. Camus landed a hard right hand early, but that was really the most significant strike of the fight. “The King” repeatedly went for and landed takedowns, after which Kimura displayed his excellent ground game. Camus went to the takedown well one time too often in the third round, though, and Kimura countered the attempt and mounted him. Camus gave up his back soon after, and Kimura sunk in a rear-naked choke to cinch up the submission victory.

The streaming portion of the card opened with a bantamweight brawl between Francisco Rivera and Edwin Figueroa. Figueroa seemed to have the advantage in the opening frame, knocking Rivera down with a nasty punch, but Rivera’s two takedowns were his saving grace. In the second round, Rivera landed a left that buckled Figueroa’s knees, and followed it up with a series of punches that found their home on Figueroa’s head. From there, it was only a matter of moments before referee Kim Winslow waved the fight off, ruling it a TKO for “Cisco.”

Jose Aldo def. Frankie Edgar by unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 48-47) – retains featherweight title
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira def. Rashad Evans by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva def. Alistair Overeem by TKO (strikes). Round 3, 0:25
Demian Maia def. Jon Fitch by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
Joseph Benavidez def. Ian McCall by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
Evan Dunham def. Gleison Tibau by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Tyron Woodley def. Jay Hieron by knockout (strikes). Round 1, 0:36
Bobby Green def. Jacob Volkmann by submission (rear-naked choke). Round 3, 4:25
Isaac Vallie-Flagg def. Yves Edwards by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Dustin Kimura def. Chico Camus by submission (rear-naked choke). Round 3, 1:50
Francisco Rivera def. Edwin Figueroa by TKO (strikes). Round 2, 4:20

Photo: Jose Aldo (center) poses with his team (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

About The Author

Eric Reinert
Staff Writer

Eric Reinert has been writing about mixed martial arts since 2010. Outside the world of caged combat, Eric has spent time as a news reporter, speechwriter, campaign strategist, tech support manager, landscaper and janitor. He lives in Madison, Wis.