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UFC 156 blog: Aldo, Silva and Nogueira take victories at Mandalay Bay

Bigfoot’ Silva stuns Alistair Overeem with third-round knockout

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Joseph Benavidez lands a kick to the ribs of Ian McCall during their bout at UFC 156 Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Benavidez won a split decision.

Updated Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013 | 10:08 p.m.

UFC 156

Jose Aldo reacts after retaining his featherweight belt after winning a unanimous decision over Frankie Edgar at UFC 156 Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Launch slideshow »

UFC 156 Weigh-In

Challenger Frankie Edgar flexes during weigh ins for UFC 156 Friday, Feb. 1, 2013. Edgar will face champion Jose Aldo in a lightweight title fight. Launch slideshow »

UFC 156 News Conference

Jose Aldo carries his lightweight championship belt during the news conference for UFC 156 Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013. Launch slideshow »

Note: Full results from the preliminary card are available at the bottom of the page.

UFC 156 provided several lessons Saturday night at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.

1) Underestimating an opponent is a catalyst for disaster. 2) Jose Aldo can be every bit as effective against the best fighters in the world. 3) Don't mess with Brazil.

Four Brazilians were on the pay-per-view card. They swept the opposition. Not only did Jose Aldo defeat Frankie Edgar by unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 48-47) in the main event to keep his featherweight title, but two of his fellow countrymen pulled off huge upsets right before he took to the octagon.

Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva came back from losing the first two rounds to knock out Alistair Overeem, who was poised to earn a heavyweight title shot with a win, in the opening minute of the third round. Light heavyweight Antonio Rogerio Nogueira out-boxed Rashad Evans in the final two rounds to win a unanimous decision.

Neither Overeem nor Evans lacked for confidence during the week. Overeem spoke of "destroying" Silva and said the Brazilian had no skills that scared him. Evans was linked to a possible fight with pound-for-pound king Anderson Silva.

Needless to say, Evans won't fight Silva. And Overeem is far from heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez.

"It really bothered me that he hasn’t respected me in interviews leading up to the fight," Silva said. "He talked a lot of trash and I told him that I’d make him respect me tonight. I’m going to go home and rest with my family for two weeks and then go right back to training. I’m ready for whatever the UFC wants for me next.”

Another Brazilian underdog, Demian Maia, came through in a welterweight contest. Maia out-grappled Jon Fitch, winning every round on every judges' scorecard for one of the most lopsided unanimous decisions imaginable.

Edgar gave Aldo quite the fight for the featherweight belt, coming on strong in the final two rounds to put the decision into doubt. But the judges were likely wooed by Aldo's creative striking, which included a punch off of the wall and a front kick to the face.

Aldo said he planned to stay at 145 pounds to defend his belt instead of moving up weight classes.

"I can make the weight so I think I will continue to fight at this weight class," he said through a translator.

In the first pay-per-view match, Joseph Benavidez beat Ian McCall by unanimous decision in a flyweight bout.

Stay tuned to lasvegassun.com for full coverage later. Until then, find a round-by-round blog of the main card below.

Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar

Fifth Round The "Frankie" chants start again as the former lightweight champion rushes forward with a right hand. Edgar is the aggressor for the opening 30 seconds. Aldo times one advance perfectly with a counter. He tries for another flying knee, but Aldo's only 1-for-3 with that technique. He's stopping most of Edgar's takedown attempts, however, as another one goes to waste here in the early going. Edgar kicks Aldo into the fence, though. Aldo doesn't get much going until Edgar misses on a hook and gets two punches to the face from the champion. Aldo gets away from another takedown attempt. Edgar swings hard and scores with a combination, a right hand followed by an uppercut. Edgar goes back to his leg kicks. He's coming forward constantly in this round. Aldo is backing up. Edgar swings hard with a leg kick, but Aldo gets out of the way. Edgar presses Aldo against the cage, gets him in the clinch and lands a knee. He spins away before Aldo can do anything in return. Edgar is feeling it now, a leg kick hits hard and then a combination. Aldo finally awakens with a left hand. This is a war, as Edgar's face gets bloodier and more swollen. Aldo throws Edgar away on a takedown attempt. The champion wins an exchange. "Frankie" chants have started again. The challenger hits Aldo with a kick to the body. Edgar moves forward and jabs, hurting Aldo. Aldo jumps off of the fence and lands a punch in the final seconds. It's another close fight. The Sun gives the last round to Edgar and the fight to Aldo 48-47. Jose Aldo beats Frankie Edgar by unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 48-47).

Fourth Round Edgar jabs to get started. Aldo circles and hits Edgar with a right hook. An Edgar leg kick ricochets hard off of Aldo's thigh. Edgar gets Aldo off-balance for a second with a jab. He kicks to the body shortly after. Aside from the bruising on Edgar's face, he looks ready to go for a lot longer. So does Aldo. A spinning attack hits Aldo in the stomach. Edgar follows with a combination. Aldo goes to the body with some power, but Edgar is undeterred. He comes forward and tries to take Aldo down. When it doesn't work, he pelts him with punches against the cage. "Frankie" chants are re-ignited. Aldo is swinging and missing a lot more than in the first two rounds. He counters a straight right from Edgar with some success, though. Edgar keeps pressuring Aldo and shoots for a single-leg takedown. He's got it. Edgar slams Aldo, much to the delight of the crowd. But Aldo won't be held down. He gets up against the fence. Edgar throws knees and tries to pull Aldo off. They break out and Edgar leg kicks the champion again. Aldo push kicks in an attempt to re-establish any kind of rhythm. Aldo lands a couple jabs, but not even Edgar's swollen right eye is stopping him from coming forward. After a takedown attempt, Aldo tries another knee. It's not there, but he gets an overhand left to go. That was Edgar's round, but Aldo is ahead 39-37 on the Sun's scorecard.

Third Round Edgar catches a legkick and takes Aldo down briefly. They get back up and start boxing. Edgar finds some points with his jab. Aldo waits patiently for openings, but there aren't many so far in this round. Edgar is keeping his hands up. Aldo fires a haymaker that Edgar gets away from. Aldo nails Edgar with a head kick to the chin. It was reminiscent of Anderson Silva's two years ago against Vitor Belfort on this same Super Bowl card. But Edgar stays up and actually rushes forward for a combination. The strike was good for a loud roar from the crowd, though. Edgar throws another jab. The challenger is out-landing the champion this round, but Aldo has made his strikes count. Edgar kicks Aldo to the body. Aldo uses his speedy hands to land a left on Edgar's chin. Edgar comes in for a couple leg kicks. He's got Aldo retreating some for the first time in this fight. Left hook is good for Aldo now. Aldo answers an Edgar straight right with a knee to the chin. Edgar fires an uppercut. Aldo looks for an uppercut a few seconds later that barely misses. Aldo shrugs off a takedown attempt almost effortlessly. Aldo counters in the final 30 seconds and checks a leg kick. Edgar lands a different kick to the body. It's a tough round to score, but Aldo may get it for damage. Aldo leads 30-27 on this scorecard.

Second Round Edgar lands a leg kick, but only after Aldo has another punch that hits him perfectly. Aldo pieces together a combination, but Edgar counters. Aldo bounces off of the fence back towards the middle and hits Edgar with a right hook. Edgar is picking up the pace this round, throwing more strikes and finding some success to this point. Aldo jabs three times in a row to keep Edgar at bay. Edgar takes another slug after kicking Aldo on the calf. He hints at a takedown but Aldo pushes him away and serves him a punch on the way out. Big exchange sees Edgar go backwards with sweat flying everywhere. Aldo gets away from another takedown attempt. He's coming forward now and catches Edgar with a legkick. Edgar barely retains his balance. He hits Aldo with a combination, but the champion smiles and appears unfazed. Aldo chops Edgar down with a legkick. Edgar gets up, but Aldo is oozing confidence now. Edgar counters with a left and an Aldo right hand. Both are moving their head and use defensive boxing to get away from combinations in the next 30 seconds. Edgar scores with a one-two up top. Aldo uses a flying knee for his biggest strike of the night. Edgar locks up against the fence. The area around Edgar's right eye is getting more swollen. Edgar catches a leg kick and puts Aldo on his back. The shifty Brazilian gets right back up. Edgar whiffs with a head kick. Edgar scores with a couple nice counters late, but Aldo get a powerful right hand to go. Aldo tries a spinkick, but Edgar narrowly avoids. Another round for the champion here, as Aldo now leads 20-18.

First Round They touch gloves and Edgar comes forward. Edgar lands a jab and a leg kick. Aldo shows off his powerful leg kicks as they circle to the other side of the cage, though. Aldo lands a left hand and comes forward for another when Edgar backs out. He's getting out of the way of Edgar's punches. "Frankie" chants start from the crowd as the former lightweight champion comes forward with a left. Aldo answers with a combination. They're trading every few seconds with neither man really standing out. Aldo does land two straight rights to the middle of Edgar's face around the three-minute mark, though. Edgar is having trouble tracking down the speedy Aldo. Edgar's face is swelling now as he whips a leg kick across Aldo's shin. Edgar comes forward with a couple jabs, but Aldo counters. Edgar kicks the champion to the body. The chants are now much louder and they've switched form "Frankie" to "Aldo". Now they go back in favor of Edgar, who tests Aldo with a couple jabs. Aldo is getting out of the way of most of Edgar's punches, though. Aldo places a right perfectly, then follows with a leg kick. There's another straight right to the face. That had to have hurt. Aldo rockets a punch into Edgar's body. He's mixing his legkicks with his punches well. The bigger and faster Aldo has Edgar uncomfortable through five minutes. Aldo wins 10-9.

Rashad Evans vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira

Third Round The older Nogueira looks fresh and moves his head well to get away from an Evans advance. Evans counters a Nogueira jab with a right hand that works. Nogueira circles and works his jab again. Nogueira looks to kick to the body, but Evans nails him with a right hook. Evans lands a couple straight punches in succession. Nogueira gets back to his jab yet again. He's out-landing Evans early, but not getting any power. Nogueira tracks down Evans for another strike. The massive favorite, Evans, might be in trouble of losing this fight. He accidentally pokes Nogueira in the eye. The doctor checks on Nogueira but clears him to continue. Evans goes to the body, but Nogueira strings a few punches together in response. Nogueira kicks Evans' right side. Evans shoots for a takedown, but Nogueira moves out of the way easily. Evans looks slower than usual tonight. They exchange with Nogueira landing three punches to Evans' one approximately. Nogueira keeps coming forward. Evans catches a legkick, but can't take the fight tot he floor. Nogueira pieces together another combination. He knees Evans to the chin. The Brazilian may have locked this up if he can hold on for 30 seconds. Nogueira stays aggressive. Evans knees him, but keeps breathing heavy. It's over. Nogueira has pulled off an even bigger upset than Silva over Overeem, 29-28 on the Sun's card. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira defeats Rashad Evans by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).

Second Round Nogueira lands a jab. Then he comes forward and scores with a combination. Evans circles and pounces on an opening with a right hook. There's not much action again through the first minute. Nogueira lands a big punch a few seconds after the one-minute mark though, a right hand to the temple. Evans shoos away one of his jabs, but Nogueira lands a body-head combination. Nogueira kicks Evans to the body. Evans comes forward with a straight right in response. Nogueira controls the octagon, pushing Evans towards the fence. His left hand lands on Evans' nose. Evans is angry now, rushing forward and winging punches at Nogueira. One lands, maybe a second grazes Nogueira. Evans is breathing hard. Nogueira takes advantage with a body shot and then a right hand. He pushes Evans back with a jab. This is a full-blown boxing match, which favors Nogueira. Evans fires an uppercut, but Nogueira answers with a straight right. Nogueira kicks Evans to the body The crowd may have forgotten anything except punching was legal. Evans shoots for a takedown, but Nogueira gets away. A wild exchange with the two in close proximity goes for Nogueira. Evans gets him back with a couple big right hands, though. Nogueira comes forward with a combination. Evans, still breathing heavy, misses on a left hand. Nogueira legkicks and Evans gets a head kick checked as the round ends. Nogueira evens the score at 19-19.

First Round Evans kicks a few times to get the fight started, but they are mostly keeping their distance. Crowd begins to get restless after a minute and a half, but Nogueira is backing away from Evans who wants to jab. Evans head kicks Nogueira and his mouthpiece flys toward the fence. Nogueira lands his first punch, a left hand. Now he's coming forward. Another left hand on the other side of the cage seems to hurt Evans, who moves backwards before he regains his bearings. Nogueira is out-boxing Evans, who is yet to look for a takedown. Nogueira isn't landing any power shots, however, settling for jabs here and there. Evans comes forwards and catches Nogueira with a right hand. He follows with an uppercut. Nogueira tries to throw a right, but Evans ducks under and takes the Brazilian down. Nogueira doesn't stay there. He's back up and in the clinch with Evans for a moment. An exchange in the middle goes Evans' way with another uppercut. Evans swings away in the final seconds, grazing Nogueira with a high kick. Evans takes an uneventful first round 10-9.

Alistair Overeem vs. Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva

Third Round Bigfoot clinches up, but Overeem presses him into the fence. Bigfoot opens up his striking and hurts Overeem. He kicks Overeem to the face. Overeem may be out. He collapses to the floor after a combination. The referee pulls Silva off. What a gigantic upset. Silva stands over his opponent yelling and has to be restrained. Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva knocks out Alistair Overeem 25 seconds into the third round.

Second Round Overeem lets a right hand fly. Silva leg kicks and nearly trips Overeem with it. That would have been major for "Bigfoot". The legkicks do seem to be affecting Overeem. They inch closer to each other and Overeem dumps Silva on his back after a soft exchange. Silva is throwing elbows onto Overeem, who is in side control. Overeem starts to work his ground-and-pound. Silva eats a big right hand. Overeem then starts going to the body. Through seven minutes, Overeem hasn't opened up much. He might be trying to play it safe in order to make sure he gets the next title shot against Cain Velasquez. All he needs is a win. Overeem starts elbowing now and Silva seems affected. Overeem pops up and Silva fires kicks from the ground toward his knees. Overeem jumps back in Silva's guard. A big hammerfist from Overeem knocks the wind out of Silva as it hits right in the middle of his chest. Overeem throws another punch to the body. Now he works the head. Overeem starts elbowing and briefly tries for a choke. Silva can't do anything off of his back. Silva hits Overeem with an upkick to the chin as he makes his way back to his feet. Looks like Overeem wants to end it now. He's swinging hard at Silva, who rocks him with a right hand. Silva follows with a knee. Overeem throws him into the fence. Good round for Overeem, who leads 20-18.

First Round The two keep their distance to start, with Overeem faking like he's going to throw his right hand. Silva flings a leg kick that's off. Overeem smiles and stalks him. He fires an uppercut and then locks up with Silva. Overeem lets a knee fly into Silva's body. THey're back in the middle with Overeem moving forward for a combination of punches. Overeem clinches, but just presses Silva into the fence for several seconds before backing off. Overeem does the same after taking one jab from Silva. "Bigfoot" tries to dirty box, but Overeem is using any opening to knee him. There's a slow pace so far with neither fighter wanting to get too aggressive. Silva looks for a head kick. It's not there. Overeem swarms again to lock back up against the cage. One particular knee hits Silva's stomach cleanly. Overeem breaks out and comes in with an uppercut. Overeem counters a Silva jab with a right hook. Silva comes forward and lands a punch without much behind it. Overeem gets a lot behind a leg kick. They clinch back up and trade knees when possible. Overeem's knees are predictably more powerful. With 30 seconds left, they go to the middle and Overeem tries a spinning attack. Silva gets away and lands his best punch of the fight. But it's not enough. Overeem takes the first round 10-9.

Jon Fitch vs. Demian Maia

Third Round With a sense of urgency, Fitch comes forward and tries to kick. Maia locks up with him again and tries to take the fight to the mat. It's a massive struggle for an entire minute before Maia spins him to the ground and takes his back. Fitch did land some punches before getting taken down, but nothing significant. Or even close to significant. Maia is working his jiu-jitsu, but Fitch has plenty of defense in his arsenal to get out of it. Fitch works his way to his feet. Maia shoots again and Fitch sprawls. They lock up and Fitch actually wraps around Maia's neck. They go to the floor with Fitch working for a guillotine. Maia gets out, but he's on bottom now with 2:30 to go. They're back up with Maia wrapped around Fitch's back. He's trying to trip Fitch, who isn't going for it. Maia drops down for a double-leg takedown attempt, but Fitch sprawls. Same story when they go back to the middle and Maia tries for a single-leg. Persistence works, however, as Maia converts. No one has ever looked this much stronger than Fitch. Maia gets his back. The boos are pouring from the fans, but Maia is controlling like he needs to. Fitch wings some punches as the round ends, but Maia gets into mount. Maia wins another 10-9 round to take a 30-26 decision on the Sun's scorecard. Demian Maia beats Jon Fitch by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).

Second Round Fitch knees Maia to get on the board early in the second round. Fitch legkicks, but Maia lands a right hand. Here comes Fitch's striking, which scores again. Maia shoots for a single-leg takedown, however, and is successful. Fitch gets back up in less than 30 seconds. He lands a combination, but Maia puts him to the ground along the fence. Maia transitions to Fitch's back again. Fitch is normally the one taking opponents down and smothering them. This is a wild reversal of fortune. Maia keeps looking for the rear-naked choke, but Fitch has too good of submission defense. Maia throws right hands from his back instead, which land with high frequency. He uses though to get another opening for the choke. Fitch is in trouble, shaking and grabbing the fence again. The referee knocks his hand away and continues to warn him. Fitch tries to wing punches towards Maia on his back, but accuracy is a problem when a fighter can't see his opponent. Maia keeps his dominant position and pulls Fitch away from the fence. Fitch takes a couple punishing shots to the jaw and starts covering up. The crowd is getting restless, but Maia is doing what he needs. Fitch hand-fights to keep the submissions away. Bell rings and Maia wins another round easy. This one is 10-9, however, since Fitch did mount some offense. Maia leads 20-18.

First Round Maia is stoic before the fight, while Fitch is bouncing around. Maia comes forward first, though. He shoots for a takedown. After a few seconds of struggle, he's got it. Now he's on Fitch's back. What a start for the decorated Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. Fitch pops up to his feet, but this isn't a good position for him. Maia sinks his right arm below Fitch's neck, looking for the rear-naked choke. Fitch struggles, but there's not much he can do to get Maia off of him. He's got a hold of Maia's left arm, which is preventing the Brazilian from getting more torque. Maia finally gets it loose, though, and Fitch tries to hand-fight it away from his neck. When Maia can't get the choke, he starts letting short punches fly from behind. Maia slides off of Fitch's back. Fitch is out of danger of a submission — for now. Maia trips him, however, and they're on the ground. Maia nearly throws Fitch down. But Fitch grabs a hold of the fence — twice. That should be a penalty point, but the referee only warns him. Maia knees Fitch to the side repeatedly. Now he's got a hold of Fitch's arm and may look for a kimura. Fitch gets his arm back but takes punches from Maia, who goes back to trying the rear-naked choke. Fitch has done nothing the entire round and is just trying to survive 30 more seconds. He will. But it was so lopsided that the Sun awards Maia a 10-8 round.

Demetrious Johnson vs. Ian McCall

Third Round Benavidez sends McCall into the fence with a right hand. McCall looks like he's in trouble, but bounces back out and smiles after five seconds or so. Benavidez keeps the pressure on, but McCall shoots for a takedown. He wasn't low enough. Benavidez easily stays up. Benavidez kicks McCall to the body. Sounds like it hurt. McCall lands a short jab. But Benavidez catches him off balance with a right hand a few seconds later. McCall falls, but he wasn't hurt. They are back against the cage for a moment. Benavidez goes for a Superman punch, but McCall gets out of the way. No one lands for about 30 seconds before each prove successful on an exchange. They're keeping their distance again, but Benavidez kicks to the body. Midway through, McCall shoots and takes Benavidez down. He looks to get the back, but leaves an opening. Benavidez is up. The cut on his forehead has re-opened, though. They trade leg kicks. McCall counters one with an overhand right. Someone will need to take this in the final two minutes. Benavidez scores with a right. He's the agressor at the moment as he catches a McCall leg kick and lands a few straight punches before "Uncle Creepy" can wiggle out. Benavidez lands a new combination, an uppercut followed by a left hand. He bounces out of the way of a double-leg takedown attempt from McCall. Benavidez is finding his range again like the first round. Benavidez lands another right and McCall can't do much in the final seconds. Benavidez wins 29-28 on the Sun's scorecard. Joseph Benavidez defeats Ian McCall by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).

Second Round McCall is fired up, yelling at the crowd to "come on." Benavidez starts fast, though, with a combination. He's got a cut above his forehead, but it's not affecting him. A body kick from Benavidez scores some points. He moves his head to get out of the way of a McCall right hand and hits him with a counter. McCall nails Benavidez with a right. McCall gets back to his legkicks, including one that makes Benavidez pull his foot up. It looks like it hurt Benavidez's leg. But Benavidez's hands are what's winning him this fight as he comes forward for another one-two combo. McCall is missing on most of his strikes. Benavidez continues to control the defense. He lands an uppercut and sprawls to prevent a McCall takedown attempt. McCall is getting pressed up against the cage by Benavidez now. Once they're out, Benavidez lands a right hand. That's the story of the fight so far. Benavidez checks a McCall kick and comes forward with a jab. A short hook gets McCall off balance. McCall locks up with Benavidez for a second and throws a knee to the body. Benavidez wings a few more punches, one of which lands cleanly, when they get out. Benavidez ducks under a McCall punch, but now he's on the ground and McCall jumps on his back. Benavidez scrambles, so now McCall is in top position. McCall transitions to the back briefly. He's firing ground-and-pound and Benavidez has no answer. Benavidez gets to his feet, but McCall still has his back. Benavidez seeks refuge against the fence, but McCall throws knees that hurt him. It's close, but McCall may have been dominant enough to take the round at the end. It's all tied at 19 after two.

First Round Gloves touch and here we go. They fire simultaneous legkicks that cancel each other out. Benavidez rushes in, but McCall ducks and clinches up with him against the fence. McCall gets one knee to land before they're back towards the middle. Benavidez lands a right hand against the fence. Benavidez counters a kick t othe body with a hook. Benavidez gets his kicks going and they make loud noises as they hit off of McCall's stomach, then his leg. McCall answers with a kick. Now there's an exchange that Benavidez seems to get the better of. Benavidez rocks McCall with an overhand right. McCall is stumbling as Benavidez jabs. McCall recovers, but takes a shot to the groin. The fight is paused. Upon the restart, McCall continues looking for legkicks. Benavidez's power is uncanny, though. Every punch he throws hurts McCall, it seems. McCall gets a nice counter left hand to score after another looping hook from Benavidez. They exchange punches and Benavidez nearly drops McCall again. The crowd cheers when McCall stays up. But he can't take much more punishment. Benavidez is landing heavy then using his footwork to get away, McCall catches one of Benavidez's leg kicks and fires a straight right. Benavidez lands a combination a few seconds later. McCall converts on a kick to the body. Benavidez answers with one of his own and a right hand. McCall ducks under a hook and catches Benavidez on the chin. Benavidez lands a big right hand, but McCall counters to send him back. Round ends with Benavidez dropping to a knee after hitting with a right. Benavidez wins 10-9.

Pre-main card

The UFC gets back to what it does best with tonight’s Super Bowl weekend card at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.

The world’s largest mixed martial arts promotion stages a card absolutely loaded with talented. All five pay-per-view bouts feature at least one fighter in the top five of his weight division and carry title implications.

As far as talent, UFC 156 is the deepest event the organization has held in more than a year. The UFC’s goal in 2013 was to put on the most significant bouts possible.

It’s off to a heck of a start. The main event between Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar is a bona-fide super fight.

Aldo is a longtime kingpin in the featherweight division, capturing the title more than three years ago while in the WEC and defending it six times since then. Edgar is a champion in his own right.

Despite a severe size disadvantage, Edgar reigned over the lightweight division for two years He should probably still own the belt, but a controversial unanimous-decision loss to Benson Henderson forced him to move down to the 145-pound division.

It’s the division where most feel he belongs. It speaks to the expectation and respect Edgar garners that he received a title shot without ever fighting at featherweight before.

Alistair Overeem already earned his shot at the heavyweight belt with a first-round TKO over Brock Lesnar in late 2011. But a yearlong suspension for elevated testosterone levels means Overeem must get one more victory before he meets Cain Velasquez.

Overeem faces Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva in the most contentious, and possibly most anticipated, fight on the main card. Overeem and Silva haven’t tried to hide the fact that they don’t think highly of each other before tonight’s fight.

Bridging the gap between Aldo vs. Edgar and Overeem vs. Silva is a light heavyweight contest between Rashad Evans and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.

Evans is a heavy favorite, but Nogueira’s boxing and jiu-jitsu makes him a tough matchup for any 205-pounder he encounters.

The first two fights on the main card could easily turn out to be the most exciting. The second and third best flyweights in the world, Joseph Benavidez and Ian McCall, open the night with their brand of fast-moving, quick-striking action.

Welterweights Jon Fitch and Demian Maia are next. The winner will make a nice move up the division and inch closer to a title shot.

Check out the Sun’s breakdown, betting odds and picks section for UFC 156 here.

Stay tuned for a live round-by-round blog of the main card and look below for the preliminary results.

Evan Dunham defeated Gleison Tibau by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29) in a lightweight bout. Tibau knocked down Dunham in the first round, but struggled for the rest of the fight. Dunham pelted Tibau late with three straight flying knees to ignite the crowd. Tibau hurt Dunham with his power early and attempted several guillotine chokes.

Well, Tyron Woodley's UFC debut went decently. Woodley scored a 36-second knockout when his right hand caught Jay Hieron flush on the forehead. The welterweight was one of three former Strikeforce fighters to make their first UFC appearance on the preliminary card. All of them left victorious.

The biggest underdog on the undercard came through with a first-rate upset in a lightweight bout. Bobby Green submitted Jacob Volkmann at 4:25 of the second round with a rear-naked choke. Green, who went off as nearly a 4-to-1 underdog, took Volkmann down in the final two rounds and applied constant pressure with elbows. He reversed position along the fence to set up the finish.

A fight can't get much closer than the lightweight contest between Yves Edwards and Isaac Vallie-Flagg. Edwards took Vallie-Flagg's back to clearly win the second round. Vallie-Flagg picked Edwards apart on the feet in the third round. It all come down to the judges' interpretation of the first round. They saw it for the razor-thin first five minutes for Vallie-Flaag,as he celebrated a split-decision victory (29-28, 29-28, 28-29) over Edwards in his UFC debut.

Dustin Kimura out-grappled Chico Camus by a wide margin, appropriately forcing a tapout in the final round of their bantamweight bout. Kimura submitted Camus with a rear-naked choke at 1:50 of the third round. Kimura, the undefeated Hawaiian prospect who made his UFC debut in the fight, nearly stopped Camus with an armbar late in the second round.

In a bantamweight fight of nonstop action, Francisco Rivera knocked out Edwin Figueroa at 4:20 of the second round. Figueroa was ahead for the first eight minutes of the fight, but Rivera made a furious surge with strikes upon getting off of his back late in the second round. A combination from Rivera put Figueroa out on his feet, and he eventually collapsed to the floor after a couple more strikes.

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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