UFC 156: Wrestling Observer Picks & Preview

UFC 156

By Josh Nason

The UFC roars for the third straight week with its best PPV main card in ages, loaded from top to bottom with great matchups featuring fighters who haven't been competing in quite some time. Comeback stories, title fight opportunities and a fight between two of the best out there on top? Sounds like a great Saturday to yours truly!

Our panel:

- Dave Meltzer (3-5): Wrestling Observer founder & writer

- Bryan Alvarez (2-2): Figure Four Weekly founder and writer

- Todd Martin (5-3): Weekly FFD guest | LA Times | Sherdog

- Mike Sempervive (5-3): Wrestling Observer Live | Big Audio Nightmare

- Mike Sawyer (5-3) of Tough Talk

- Josh Nason (6-2): Wrestling Observer web editor, social media guy

- Oliver Copp (3-5) of "Oliver Knows" fame

UFC Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo (21-1) vs. Frankie Edgar (15-3-1)

Two of the best lighter weight fighters in the world finally clash in a bout that some have called a superfight and for good reason. The 26-year-old Aldo hasn't lost in over seven years and is looking for the sixth defense of his UFC/WEC 145-pound title. Feel like he's been out for a while? You'd be right. Due to injuries, Aldo hasn't stepped in the Octagon since his January 2012 1st round KO of Chad Mendes.

The 31-year-old Edgar finally fights someone not named Penn, Maynard or Henderson, looking to snap a two-fight losing streak in the process. The former UFC Lightweight Champion has taken some abuse in the aforementioned fights and there is some question about when that finally begins to take its toll. This is Edgar's first fight in his new weight class and against a dangerous opponent.

Aldo: Copp, Nason, Sawyer, Martin, Meltzer
Edgar: Sempervive, Alvarez

Rashad Evans (17-2-1) vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (20-5)

The former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion returns to action after eight months off, wanting to re-establish himself as a top contender but not necessarily at just 205 pounds. A winner in four of his last five, the 33-year-old could have a run at 185 pounds in him if he chooses. He takes on Nogueira, who has been out of action since taking apart Tito Ortiz in December 2011. At 36 and having beaten no one of name value in his Octagon run, Lil' Nog is at a big disadvantage.

Evans: Sempervive, Alvarez, Copp, Martin, Sawyer, Meltzer, Nason

Alistair Overeem (36-11-0-1) vs. Antonio Silva (17-4)

The 'Reem made his UFC debut an impressive one, sending Brock Lesnar into retirement with a first round TKO win in December 2011. But drug test failures kept him on the shelf for all of 2012 and took away a shot at then champ Junior dos Santos. Unbeaten in over five years, he returns against Silva, fresh off a first round TKO win over Travis Brown in October 2012. A checkmark in Overeem's favor: Silva's last two defeats came via first round T/KO.

Overeem: Sempervive, Alvarez, Copp, Martin, Meltzer, Nason
Silva: Sawyer

Jon Fitch (24-4-1-1) vs. Demian Maia (17-4)

Fitch opened up eyes (finally!) with an impressive and dominant win over Erick Silva in October, erasing thoughts of his 12 second defeat to Johny Hendricks. The wrestling/grappling star meets his match in Maia, who has two wins and two first round finishes since dropping to 170 pounds. For fans of matwork, your Super Bowl matchup is here.

Fitch: Sempervive, Alvarez, Copp, Nason, Sawyer, Martin, Meltzer

Joe Benavidez (16-3) vs. Ian McCall (11-3-1)

In the still newborn flyweight division, this might as well be a No. 1 contender's fight. Benavidez has been on the shelf since his September split decision title loss to Demetrious Johnson, while McCall has been inactive since his own decision loss to Johnson in June.

Benavidez: Alvarez, Copp, Nason, Sawyer, Martin, Meltzer
McCall: Sempervive

Catch all the action live tonight on WrestlingObserver.com!

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