UFC 156 was supposed to be the night that we had all of our questions answered. However, a strange night of fights left us with far more questions than concrete answers.
What’s Next For Jose Aldo?
Here’s the dilemma with Jose Aldo’s victory over Frankie Edgar at UFC 156. It wasn’t close enough to warrant an immediate rematch nor was it such a dominant victory that he’s expected to vacate the division for greater challenges at lightweight. So now what? The Brazilian is clearly better than the rest of the division and fights against Ricardo Lamas or a rematch with Chad Mendes aren’t exactly of the appetizing variety. At the post fight press conference, UFC president Dana White was fishing for answers too when a surprising text came in that perhaps was a blessing for the quagmire the UFC finds themselves in. Lightweight contender Anthony Pettis said that he would drop down to the featherweight division to face Aldo. Now that is a tantalizing dish. However, is Pettis just going to give up his already cemented title shot against the winner of Benson Henderson and Gilbert Melendez to move down a weight class against one of the most dynamic fighters in all of MMA?
Where Does Frankie Edgar Go From Here?
When Frankie Edgar’s career is reflected on once he decides to hang up the gloves, those that never got a chance to see him fight will never understand how good he truly was. In his last seven fights he’s gone 3-3-1 but could have easily gone 7-0. It’s scary how well he adjusts, how resilient he is and how impossible he is to dominate. But the fact of the matter is that he’s gone 0-3 in his last three fights that were all for world titles. He dropped the title to Benson Henderson, lost the rematch and then lost a close fight with Jose Aldo that he appeared to be slowly adjusting to. While he’s given every single fighter he’s stepped into the cage with a run for their money, reality has to set in and Edgar must step out of the title picture for the first time in three years and seven fights. After his loss to Aldo, a snake bitten Edgar sat with his hood draped over his head and a nasty mouse forming under his left eye. We wanted to ask questions but Edgar had to be sick of the questions regarding how close he was to winning as we are asking them. “I don’t know,” he often muttered. How does a guy how comes within a hair of winning for the past three fights deal with the same questions being fired his way? You have to feel for the guy. So what is next? Well, UFC President Dana White made it clear that Edgar will remain a featherweight and not jump back up to the crowded lightweight division. Who he fights next is anyone’s guess but a showdown with Urijah Faber sounds fun. We also have to believe that Edgar could shave off ten pounds and make noise at bantamweight.
What’s Left For Rashad Evans?
Before Rashad Evans stepped into the cage against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, the talk was that the former UFC Light Heavyweight champ would drop down to middleweight and face the great Anderson Silva. Fifteen minutes later, the conversation swiftly shifted to where his desire and drive had gone. Easily his most uninspired outing in his career, Evans dropped a unanimous decision to Nogueira and the chatter on social media all asked the same thing: “What happened?”
In a conversation with Evans on Thursday, he explained that he had to take some time off from MMA to refocus his life and recharge his battery. The emotional roller coaster of facing Jon Jones coupled with his recent divorce had taken its toll on Evans. But he appeared to be in high spirits on Thursday and told Life+Times that he hadn’t felt this good physically and mentally since he faced Tito Ortiz over five years ago. But something was wrong when that Octagon door closed. Evans appeared tentative, slow and discouraged by what was in front of him. The dynamic wrestler couldn’t score a takedown and was continuously beaten to the punch by the Brazilian. Aside from that, the fight was a snoozer that ended with a cascade of boos filling up the arena.
Afterwards, Dana White appeared mystified and flabbergasted by Evans’ performance. When asked why he thought the former champion came out so flat with a possible fight with the world’s greatest fighter on the line, White struggled to find an answer.
“I like Rashad a lot. He’s a good guy, a smart guy. But he has lost that hunger. He’s lost that desire and drive, and he needs to get it back. There’s no doubt about it,” White said. Perhaps the financial security he has obtained and his tenure in the UFC has left his belly full. To be a hungry fighter is to be one scared of their financial future. Maybe the millions of dollars he’s made has killed his competitive spirit. Simply put, he needs to either get that hunger back or retire.
Was Alistair Overeem Overhyped?
For the past few years, Alistair Overeem was the greatest heavyweight the UFC never had on its roster. The 32-year-old’s extraordinary physique and remarkable list of accomplishments had most figuring that once he joined the UFC, adding the heavyweight title to his portfolio would be a foregone conclusion. His systematic dismantling of former champion Brock Lesnar last December seemed to signal that the era of “The Reem” had arrived as he lined himself up for a title shot against Junior Dos Santos. But a failed drug test derailed those plans and forced Overeem onto the sidelines for nine months. The hiccup in his quest seemed brief though as he was reinstated in December and set up with what many thought would be an easy fight with Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva. Dana White said that a victory would set him up with a showdown against newly minted champion Cain Velasquez. All the pieces seemed to be in place, all the Dutch fighter had to do was win.
Not only did he not do that, he was annihilated for his troubles.
An overconfident Overeem danced his way into the Octagon brimming with arrogance. Meanwhile, Silva had told anyone that would listen that he would be far more than a speed bump on Overeem’s road to a title shot. In the first couple of rounds, Overeem showed little respect for his opponent. However, he didn’t look like the man whose trophy case features a K-1 championship, the Strikeforce heavyweight title and the DREAM interim title. Not that he was losing, he just wasn’t winning. Most were surprised that Silva was still standing upright entering the third frame. Overeem said it himself that this was merely a warm up fight. Unfortunately, the man they call “Bigfoot” wasn’t adhering to any of that noise.
A crisp combination followed by some thunderous uppercuts and a few hooks for good measure sank Overeem to the canvas as Silva had to be pulled off by referee Herb Dean. While Overeem lay unconscious, Silva shouted at his opponent. Too bad his opponent couldn’t hear him since he was probably dreaming about his next fight.
It was a cautionary tale of what happens when you take your opponent too lightly and piss him off. But the real question now is where exactly does this leave Alistair Overeem? His title shot is certainly up in smoke but we are left wondering if he was ever as good as advertised. Looking back to his recent string of 12 fights without a loss and the fact that he didn’t face a top shelf heavyweight is now glaring. Was he ever as good as we (or he) thought?