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UFC 156 breakdown, betting odds and picks

Line on Jose Aldo to beat Frankie Edgar getting steeper

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

Defending featherweight champion Jose Aldo, from Brazil, right, punches Chad Mendes, from the US, during their featherweight title bout at the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) 142 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday Jan. 15, 2012. Aldo defended his belt defeating Mendes on the first round.

The UFC finally put together a super fight.

It might not be the one between the two best fighters in the world — Anderson Silva vs. Jon Jones — or the one that would sell the most pay-per-views — Anderson Silva vs. Georges St. Pierre — but the main event of Saturday’s UFC 156 fits the description.

Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar, which headlines the annual Super Bowl weekend card at the Mandalay Bay Events Center this year, is the closest thing fans will get to champion vs. champion for now.

Aldo is the dominant 145-pound champion, holding the belt for nearly four years now. Edgar was the lightweight champion for almost four years, and many believe he should still possess the title after a controversial split-decision loss to Benson Henderson his last time out.

Right when it looked like Aldo was out of challenges at featherweight, Edgar dropped down to give him the most significant test of his career.

But the sports betting market and the Sun picks panel like Aldo to pass. All five members of the Sun’s panel picked Aldo, who’s up to as high as a minus-220 favorite over Edgar, who comes back at plus 180 — to retain his title. They also agreed unanimously on three of the other 10 bouts.

Check below for breakdowns, betting odds and picks on every fight from Las Vegas Sun’s Ray Brewer (10-1 after one event this year), ESPN.com’s Brett Okamoto (9-2), ESPN Radio’s Steve Cofield (9-2), 2012 champion Kevin West (6-5) from KSNV and 2011 champion Case Keefer (5-6) from the Sun.

Frankie Edgar

  • Age: 31
  • Height: 5’6''
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 9-3-1
  • MMA record 14-3-1
  • Out of: Toms River, N.J.
  • Betting line: +180

Jose Aldo

  • Age: 26
  • Height: 5’7''
  • Weight: 145
  • UFC record 3-0
  • MMA record 21-1
  • Out of: Rio de Janeiro
  • Betting line: -220

Featherweight Championship Bout

Main Event

Last fight: Split-decision loss to Benson Henderson at UFC 150.

Punch list: Wrestling, endurance and straight boxing are Edgar’s advantages in this fight. Despite dropping a weight class, he’s still going to be noticeably smaller than Aldo. It’s Edgar’s seventh straight title fight and fifth time oddsmakers have made him the underdog. He’s 2-1-1 in the previous four, though most felt he deserved to win the decision against Henderson last August.

Picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Aldo

Cofield: Aldo

Last fight: First-round knockout victory over Chad Mendes at UFC 142.

Punch list: Power, speed and overall striking are Aldo’s advantages in this fight. One concern is the 13-month layoff he’s coming off after stopping Mendes with a knee to the face last January. He was twice slated to meet Erik Koch, but injured his knee last summer and his foot in a motorcycle accident last fall. Aldo wants to finish Edgar emphatically, then move up to the 155-pound division.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Aldo

Brewer: Aldo

Okamoto: Aldo

Antonio Rogerio Nogueira

  • Age: 36
  • Height: 6’2”
  • Weight: 205
  • UFC record: 3-2
  • MMA record: 20-5
  • Out of: Gardena, Calif.
  • Betting line: +350

Rashad Evans

  • Age: 33
  • Height: 5’11''
  • Weight: 205
  • UFC record: 12-2-1
  • MMA record: 17-2-1
  • Out of: Boca Raton, Fla.
  • Betting line: -450

Light Heavyweight Bout

Co-Main Event

Last fight: First-round TKO victory over Tito Ortiz at UFC 140.

Punch list: Like Evans, it’s hard to remember when “Lil Nog” fought last. He was active during his first two years in the UFC, but missed all of 2012 with a knee injury. Like his twin brother “Big Nog”, great boxing and jiu-jitsu is what “Lil Nog” brings into every fight. Speed and wrestling are areas where Nogueira is vulnerable.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Evans

Cofield: Evans

Last fight: Lost a unanimous decision to Jon Jones at UFC 145.

Punch list: It’s always interesting to see how fighters bounce back after lopsided losses to the champion where they tumble far from the top of the pecking order. Evans remains one of the best light heavyweights in the world, however, and would be a favorite to regain the title if and when Jones departs for the heavyweight division.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Evans

Brewer: Evans

Okamoto: Evans

Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva

  • Age: 33
  • Height: 6’4’’
  • Weight: 266
  • UFC record: 1-1
  • MMA record: 17-4
  • Out of: Coconut Creek, Fla.
  • Betting line: +300

Alistair Overeem

  • Age: 32
  • Height: 6’5’’
  • Weight: 263
  • UFC record 1-0
  • MMA record 36-11
  • Out of: Boca Raton, Fla.
  • Betting line: -400

Heavyweight Bout

Featured Contest

Last fight: First-round knockout victory over Travis Browne at UFC on FX 5.

Punch list: If “Bigfoot” can get his opponents down, they’re in trouble. Silva has some of the heaviest and most vicious ground-and-pound in mixed martial arts. He showed he can also finish fighters on the feet, though, with his upset over Browne four months ago.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Overeem

Cofield: Silva

Last fight: First-round knockout over Brock Lesnar at UFC 141.

Punch list: Overeem returns from a year-long suspension for elevated testosterone levels to a high-risk situation. If the Dutch kickboxer wins, he gets a title shot against champion Cain Velasquez. A loss would make the title fight, which he initially earned by beating Lesnar, disappear.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Overeem

Brewer: Overeem

Okamoto: Overeem

Demian Maia

  • Age: 35
  • Height: 6’0''
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record: 11-4
  • MMA record: 17-4
  • Out of: Sao Paulo
  • Betting line: +150

Jon Fitch

  • Age: 34
  • Height: 6’0''
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record: 14-2-1
  • MMA record: 24-4-1
  • Out of: San Jose, Calif.
  • Betting line: -180

Welterweight Bout

Pay-Per-View Fight

Last fight: Submitted Rick Story in the first round at UFC 153.

Punch list: The Story finish snapped a three-and-a-half year, nine-fight streak of no submission victories from Maia. That’s almost unfathomable considering Maia is one of the best Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioners in the world. Dropping to 170 pounds has enabled Maia to use his strength against smaller opponents to get into grappling situations. He could get into the title picture with a win over a perennial contender like Fitch.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Maia

Cofield: Fitch

Last fight: Defeated Erick Silva by unanimous decision at UFC 153.

Punch list: Fitch’s UFC record is a sight to behold. Few fighters in the promotion could keep up that level of consistency over seven years. But he’s often not given full credit for his achievements because of his grinding style that some refer to as boring. There were no complaints after the Silva win, however, as Fitch earned a Fight of the Night bonus after stymieing the prized prospect.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Fitch

Brewer: Fitch

Okamoto: Maia

Ian McCall

  • Age: 28
  • Height: 5’5’’
  • Weight: 125
  • UFC record: 0-1-1
  • MMA record: 11-3-1
  • Out of: Irvine, Calif.
  • Betting line: +210

Joseph Benavidez

  • Age: 28
  • Height: 5’4’’
  • Weight: 125
  • UFC record 3-1
  • MMA record 16-3
  • Out of: Sacramento, Calif.
  • Betting line: -260

Flyweight Bout

Pay-Per-View Opener

Last fight: Unanimous-decision loss to Demetrious Johnson at UFC on FX 3.

Punch list: Frustrated by a draw in the first fight and a loss in the second fight to Demetrious Johnson, McCall compartmentalized and re-dedicated himself to training. “Uncle Creepy” said he was dealing with a glut of personal issues that didn’t allow him to perform to the level he expected in the original four-man tournament for the flyweight title. He’s fixed those issues now and ready to make another run at the championship.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Benavidez

Cofield: Benavidez

Last fight: Lost a split decision to Demetrious Johnson at UFC 152.

Punch list: The winner of this fight is expected to get the next crack at the flyweight belt despite both competitors coming off of losses to champion Demetrious Johnson. Benavidez feels he’s the strongest and most powerful 125-pound fighter in the world, but he couldn’t track down Johnson consistently enough to use it in his title fight last September. The loss devastated Benavidez at first, but now motivates him to get a second chance.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Benavidez

Brewer: Benavidez

Okamoto: Benavidez

Evan Dunham

  • Age: 31
  • Height: 5’10’’
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 6-3
  • MMA record 13-3
  • Out of: Las Vegas
  • Betting line: +105

Gleison Tibau

  • Age: 29
  • Height: 5’10’’
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 11-6
  • MMA record 26-8
  • Out of: Coconut Creek, Fla.
  • Betting line: -125

Lightweight Bout

FX Prelim

Last fight: Unanimous-decision loss against T.J. Grant at UFC 152.

Punch list: All three of Dunham’s losses have come in the last two-and-a-half years. He was considered a top-flight prospect before the setbacks. The University of Oregon still has the ability and potential to reach the top of the division, but likely can’t slip up again if he wants to get there.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Tibau

Cofield: Tibau

Last fight: Unanimous-decision win over Francisco Trinaldo at UFC 153.

Punch list: A downright massive lightweight, Tibau is able to control most of his opponents. Despite a productive seven-year run with the UFC, Tibau has never been able to sustain a long winning streak. He’s regularly tripped up once nearing contender status, mostly recently to Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 148 last year.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Dunham

Brewer: Dunham

Okamoto: Dunham

Jay Hieron

  • Age: 36
  • Height: 5’11’’
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 0-3
  • MMA record 23-6
  • Out of: Las Vegas
  • Betting line: +130

Tyron Woodley

  • Age: 30
  • Height: 5’9’’
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 0-0
  • MMA record 10-1
  • Out of: St. Louis
  • Betting line: -160

Welterweight Bout

FX Prelim

Last fight: Lost to Jake Ellenberger by unanimous decision at UFC on FX 5.

Punch list: Look for Hieron to throw everything he possibly can at Woodley in this one. The local worked so hard to get back in the UFC, but could face his second termination from the promotion with another loss. At this stage in his career, Hieron isn’t interested in fighting for lesser organizations.

Picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Hieron

Cofield: Woodley

Last fight: Lost to Nate Marquardt by fourth-round TKO at Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Kennedy.

Punch list: It’s time to find out if Woodley is a legitimate contender or a mediocre fighter undeserving of the hype he once garnered. There’s no question he can wrestle with anyone, but are the other parts of his game enough to stay afloat in the UFC? Woodley wants to prove his loss to Marquardt wasn’t indicative of his true value as a fighter.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Woodley

Brewer: Woodley

Okamoto: Woodley

Bobby Green

  • Age: 26
  • Height: 5’10’’
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 0-0
  • MMA record 19-5
  • Out of: Fontana, Calif.
  • Betting line: +280

Jacob Volkmann

  • Age: 32
  • Height: 5’9’’
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 6-3
  • MMA record 15-3
  • Out of: White Bear Lake, Minn.
  • Betting line: -350

Lightweight Bout

FX Prelim

Last fight: Beat Matt Ricehouse by unanimous decision at Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman.

Punch list: The second of three fighters on the card coming over from Strikeforce, Green might be the most vocal. Volkmann called him “a twitter bully” after Green attacked him for being boring on the social networking site. Good thing Green has the grappling and submissions to possibly combat Volkmann’s wrestling.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Volkmann

Cofield: Volkmann

Last fight: First-round submission victory over Shane Roller at UFC on FX 5.

Punch list: Despite winning six of seven fights at lightweight, “Christmas” remains stuck on the undercard. He went a long way towards boosting himself in his last fight, though. The submission of Roller marked Volkmann’s first finish in the UFC, something he had strived for in recent years.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Green

Brewer: Volkmann

Okamoto: Volkmann

Isaac Vallie-Flagg

  • Age: 34
  • Height: 5’8”
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 0-0
  • MMA record 13-3-1
  • Out of: Albuquerque, N.M.
  • Betting line: +190

Yves Edwards

  • Age: 36
  • Height: 5’9’’
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 10-6
  • MMA record 42-18-1
  • Out of: Woodlands, Texas
  • Betting line: -240

Lightweight Bout

FX Prelim

Last fight: Split-decision win over Gesias Cavalcante.

Punch list: Unbeaten in the last six years, Vallie-Flagg surges into the UFC with renowned trainer Greg Jackson behind him. He went undefeated in two Strikeforce appearances, though both were split decisions. Among his accomplishments, Vallie-Flagg lists “a black belt in being awesome”, which may or may not prove beneficial when he steps foot in the octagon for the first time.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Edwards

Cofield: Edwards

Last fight: Knocked out Jeremy Stephens in the first round at UFC on Fox 5.

Punch list: Edwards first fought in the UFC 12 years ago, but might not have notched a signature victory until his last time out. No one had ever knocked out Stephens and the “Thugjitsu Master” did it in less than two minutes. He was once considered the best lightweight in the UFC before the promotion added a championship belt.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Edwards

Brewer: Edwards

Okamoto: Edwards

Dustin Kimura

  • Age: 25
  • Height: 5’7’’
  • Weight: 145
  • UFC record: 10-0
  • MMA record: 0-0
  • Out of: Honolulu
  • Betting line: +135

Chico Camus

  • Age: 28
  • Height: 5’6’’
  • Weight: 135
  • UFC record: 1-0
  • MMA record: 12-3
  • Out of: Milwaukee
  • Betting line: -165

Bantamweight Bout

Facebook Prelim

Last fight: Knocked out Guy Delumeau at Pacific Xtreme Combat 34.

Punch list: Without ever stepping foot in the octagon, Kimura has already won the title for most fitting name for a fighter. Although he’s never pulled off a kimura in an actual fight, the Hawaiian prospect does have some submission chops. He’s forced his opponent to tap out in half of his career fights.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Kimura

Cofield: Kimura

Last fight: Defeated Dustin Pague by unanimous decision at UFC 150.

Punch list: Those around Camus are convinced he’s poised to break out in the UFC with the way he’s improving every fight. Working with Duke Roufus, he has a striking game that continues to come along. But Camus showed off his graplling in his UFC debut, taking Pague’s back to secure a win.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Camus

Brewer: Camus

Okamoto: Camus

Francisco Rivera

  • Age: 31
  • Height: 5’9”
  • Weight: 135
  • UFC record 1-1
  • MMA record 8-2
  • Out of: Buena Park, Calif.
  • Betting line: -325

Edwin Figueroa

  • Age: 28
  • Height: 5’7’’
  • Weight: 135
  • UFC record 2-1
  • MMA record 9-1
  • Out of: McKinney, Texas
  • Betting line: +250

Bantamweight Bout

Facebook Prelim

Last fight: First-round knockout win over Roland Delorme overturned to a no contest.

Punch list: Rivera vacated the Delorme win after testing positive for a banned substance. He returns from a three-month suspension at Mandalay Bay. He’s promising to deliver a “stand-up war” against Figueroa. Always looking to stay on the feet, “Cisco” has five knockout victories.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Rivera

Cofield: Figueroa

Last fight: Beat Alex Caceres by split decision at UFC 143.

Punch list: Say this much for Figueroa: He’s never been in a boring fight in the UFC. Some would say he takes too much damage, but he gives out just as much. Figueroa likes to pressure opponents by coming forward and winging a variety of punches.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Figueroa

Brewer: Rivera

Okamoto: Figueroa

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

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