It’s time to step into the Octagon once again as we take a look back at UFC 156, shown live in the early hours of this past Sunday morning on ESPN here in Britain.
This five hour marathon began with the preliminary fights and the lightweight encounter between Yves Edwards and Isaac Vallie-Flagg.
I really enjoyed this one. We saw all of the aspects of the MMA game in a fight filled with top notch action.
Both fighters put on good displays in the striking department early on, and although the veteran Edwards connected with some good shots Vallie-Flagg began to outshine him.
Edwards’ best work came in the second round when he scored with the takedown. His ground work looked solid as he moved from position to position, eventually taking his man’s back as he looked for the rear naked choke. Vallie-Flagg did a good job of defending against this, but if the round hadn’t ended when it did Edwards may have had a little more success.
Round three clearly belonged to Vallie-Flagg. Even though Edwards was starting to tire he still got in some good shots, although Vallie-Flagg eclipsed his work rate, and the fact that he easily escaped from Edwards’ takedown attempts showed how far ahead he was.
With no knockout or submission the judges came into the equation, with Vallie-Flagg taking the split decision.
The lightweight action continued with Jacob Volkmann taking on Bobby Green.
This was even better than the first fight, a three rounder packed with tremendous action.
Volkmann’s work in the first was top notch. His dominance began as soon as he took the fight to the ground, and there were times when Green looked helpless, particularly when Volkmann took his back and looked for a rear naked choke.
Green came back well from the second round onwards. When Volkmann went for the takedown again Green defended and soon found himself in top position on the ground as he looked to deliver a few shots.
Then we got the rather strange stand up from our esteemed referee. I guess she didn’t see the damage Green had caused to Volkmann’s face.
Even though Volkmann managed to regain control Green took it back in the third. The fatigue factor was clearly coming into play as far as Volkmann was concerned, and as the action went back to the ground and the fight entered it’s final minute Green took his man’s back and locked in a rear naked choke for the submission win.
It was up to welterweight for the next fight as Tyron Woodley took on Jay Hieron.
This was one of those encounters where the introductions lasted longer than the fight.
After a brief feeling out period Woodley came forward and connected with a big looping right. Hieron crashed down to the mat immediately, and as Woodley followed him down the referee stepped in after just 36 seconds to give Woodley the knockout win.
Filler material followed in the form of the catchweight encounter between Chico Camus and Dustin Kimura.
This was originally meant to be a bantamweight fight, but when Kimura failed to make weight he chose to surrender a percentage of his purse instead of going back into the sauna.
I’m really glad they showed this one. It began with some nice striking exchanges as Camus put his man on his backside before he scored with the takedown.
However, as soon as they hit the mat Kimura went on to dominate off his back, going for submission after submission which Camus managed to survive.
Camus’ best moments came in the second round with his sound striking game, but when he took the fight back to the ground Kimura attacked from his back once again.
The end came in the third. This time when the fight went to the ground Kimura ended up in the top position, and it wasn’t long before he took Camus’ back and synched in a rear naked choke for the submission win.
It was back to lightweight for the final preliminary fight as Gleison Tibau faced Evan Dunham.
This rather intriguing three rounder saw Tibau going for an early finish when he went for a guillotine. Dunham survived that particular attempt though.
The striking battle showed just how different these two were. While Dunham went for the technical approach Tibau seemed to be looking for that one big powerful blow with every swing. This tactic didn’t seem to do much for his conditioning as he began to slow down before the first round had even ended.
So the tone of the fight was set, and as the action went on Dunham’s striking got better and better. The only problem he had was that he just couldn’t score with the takedown, particularly in the third round, although we did get the duelling guillotine attempts at the beginning of that particular round.
With the fight going the distance the judges were called into action once again as Dunham took the split decision.
The main show began in the flyweight division as Joseph Benavidez faced Ian McCall.
This fight was a great example of why I’m a big fan of this division.
Benavidez’s striking was top notch throughout. Although there were a few stray shots early on he managed to stagger his man a few times, particularly in the first.
McCall’s best chances came when he tried to take the fight to ground, especially towards the end of the second. This exchange saw Uncle Creepy avoiding his man’s takedown attempt and coming back quickly to take his back, adding a spot of ground and pound into the equation.
By the time the third round started Benavidez regained control, and although McCall scored with another takedown Benavidez escaped and returned to his favoured striking game.
But with no finish it went down to the judges again as Benavidez took the unanimous decision.
It was back to welterweight for the next fight as Jon Fitch took on Demian Maia.
It was all about the ground game in this one. For three rounds Maia showed once again that the welterweight division is tailor-made for him.
The Brazilian took the fight to the ground as soon as it began, and it wasn’t long before he took Fitch’s back as he looked for a rear naked choke.
But once again Fitch showed how great he is defensively as he stopped Maia’s attempts each and every time. The only problem was that his best work throughout the fight was his defensive work, his main offensive work being a brief guillotine attempt.
Despite the great efforts of the Brazilian he couldn’t get the finish, which meant yet more work for the judges as Maia took the unanimous decision.
The big boys of the heavyweight division came out to play next as Alistair Overeem went up against Antonio Silva.
This was the fight I was looking forward to the most, and it was another example of how a fight can turn in an instant.
Overeem dominated the first two rounds. His striking, particularly in the clinch against the cage, was excellent, and when he scored with the takedown in the second his work got even better. His body shots looked absolutely brutal.
But when Silva had a bit of success with his own striking at the end of the second it was a sign of things to come. He staggered the Dutchman as soon as the third round began, and a barrage of punches sent Overeem crashing to the canvas, the referee stepping in to give Bigfoot the TKO win.
The co-main event featured light heavyweight action as Rashad Evans took on Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.
On paper this fight looked like one of the best match-ups on the show. Unfortunately fights aren’t fought on paper.
It basically felt like this fight had a feeling out period that pasted for 15 minutes. Both guys got in their fair share of blows, but there just weren’t any real game changing events here.
There was also very little action on the ground. Evans scored with the only takedown of the fight with Little Nog defending against his other attempts.
That was basically it, which meant more work for the judges as Nogueira took the unanimous decision.
The main event saw Frankie Edgar challenging Jose Aldo for the Featherweight title.
Now this wash what a striking battle should be. For five rounds these two put on a fight worthy of it’s spot on the card.
Aldo, as always, put on a great display. His combinations were top notch, especially during the early rounds, while his leg kicks were as brutal as ever, although he never used these as his main weapon.
Edgar, for his part, seemed to get stronger as the fight went on. While Aldo seemed to tire Edgar looked minty fresh throughout, keeping the speed that served him so well in the lightweight division and scoring with some nice combinations of his own, particular later in the fight.
As far as the takedowns were concerned Edgar had a couple of successful moments, with Aldo showing some great defensive skills as he avoided the mat time and time again.
But with no finish in sight the judges were called upon for the final time as Aldo took the unanimous decision.
In conclusion - other commitments meant that I only got to watch this show a few days after everyone else. However, it was definitely worth the wait.
The five hour marathon that was UFC 156 proved to be a very good show. Apart from the disappointing Evans/Nogueira battle all of these fights delivered as the Brazilian contingent gave as another enjoyable night of fight action. But even though I enjoyed their work my fight of the night no-prize goes to an encounter that didn’t involve a Brazilian.
Yep, I’m going against the grain once again and giving the prize to Bobby Green’s submission win over Jacob Volkmann. It certainly was a great way for Green to make his UFC debut, and I look forward to seeing more from him in the future.
So with all of that out of the way it’s time to wrap this thing up by giving UFC 156 the thumbs up.