Another night of fights is in the books, and UFC 156 ranged from the entertaining to the highly improbable. If anyone out there picked all eleven winners right from this card, you're either a genius or you got incredibly lucky. That's the best thing about MMA to me though - you never know what's going to happen. And UFC 156 was definitely unpredictable. And with that in mind, let's get on with the winners and losers list from the event.
Jose Aldo: The champ is still here. Aldo fought a great fight against a very tough challenger, and proved that he's one of the UFC's elite champions. A lot of fans and media had the fight a little closer than the judges did, but Edgar had the best resume of anyone that has stepped up to face him and he got the job done. In a bit of a surprise, it certainly looks like his next challenger won't be Ricardo Lamas or Chan Sung Jung, but former WEC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis. I can't wait for that bout, that's for sure.
Antonio Silva: Trivia question - name the fighters that have defeated both and Fedor Emelianenko. I'll give you a hint - the list isn't very long. And Bigfoot added his name to it tonight. He took advantage of an overconfident opponent and made the most of his opportunity. I'm not sure that many are anxiously awaiting Silva/Velasquez 2 at this point, but he earned his spot in the top five with an awesome and surprising knockout. It was the only moment of the night that made me jump up and run around the living room, so it had to be special.
Demian Maia: It's not often that a guy charges across the cage an initiates a takedown less than a second into a fight, but Maia didn't care. Total domination followed for the rest of the fifteen minutes, and I never stopped being amazed and impressed. Maia's wrestling was totally off the charts last night, to the point that he made it look easy against a top-level opponent. I know that some people found it boring and the terrible Vegas crowd was booing, but I wasn't bored at all. I was too busy marveling at Maia's technical brilliance. In many ways, it was the most impressive performance of the night. And I absolutely loved every second of it, even as a Fitch fan.
Strikeforce fighters:The invasion has begun. Did anyone think Strikeforce guys would go 3-0 on the undercard? First off, Isaac Vallie-Flagg used aggressive striking to beat Yves Edwards. Then Bobby Green overcame Jacob Volkmann's wrestling (and a bad referee) to submit the Obama lover late. And to close it out, Tyron Woodley blasted Hieron into next week. As a Strikeforce fan, I was unbelievably happy to get all three predictions wrong. Somewhere, Scott Coker and Frank Shamrock were enjoying a frosty beverage and smiling. And I don't blame them at all.
Chris Weidman: I know he didn't even fight on tonight's card, but his only real competition for a UFC middleweight title shot fought like crap tonight and a bout with Anderson Silva was basically handed to him on a silver platter. And if you're wondering why Lil Nog isn't on this list - well, he didn't really do a lot to win that fight. Rashad just did less, which I'll get to below.
Frankie Edgar: Frankie has lost three fights in a row now. That's pretty crazy when you think about it. I don't think he fought a bad fight or anything, but his skill set just wasn't good enough to solve the Aldo puzzle. There's no shame in losing to Ben Henderson or Jose Aldo though, that's for sure. He's not sure if he'll go back to lightweight or not, but I hope he stays at 145. I love some of the potential matchups for him in the division, and he's much more likely to earn another title shot at featherweight than at lightweight. But hey, maybe he can just keep going down and fight the winner of Renan Barao vs. Michael McDonald at 135. Hell, maybe he should go to ATT and, lose 40 pounds and fight for the UFC strawweight title. Stranger things have happened.
Rashad Evans:That was undoubtedly the worst performance of Evans' UFC career. He didn't have any confidence in his striking, and his wrestling just looked...off. Was he hurt? Was he thinking about his teammate Overeem getting knocked out? Did he just not take Nogueira seriously? Playing pattycake for 15 minutes doesn't win you fights in the UFC, and it may have cost him a middleweight title fight with Anderson Silva. In short, it was a pretty terrible night for the former UFC light heavyweight champion.
Alistair Overeem: Watching cocky guys get their comeuppance is something I enjoy, and Overeem absolutely deserved what he got tonight. Pre-fight talk is one thing. But dropping your hands and practically begging a 280-pound man to hit you in the face? When it has always been crystal clear that you don't have the best chin in MMA? That's just stupid. Overeem didn't take Silva seriously at all, and he paid the ultimate price for it. It took Silva almost two rounds to get going, but it was magical once he did. I considered myself an Overeem fan before tonight too, but I definitely won't make that mistake again.
Jay Hieron: Mr. Hieronymous walked out of Bellator after a very competitive fight with Ben Askren, and parlayed that into a UFC contract (after a Legacy FC fight). He dropped a decision to Jake Ellenberger in his debut, but it was competitive and he warned his paycheck. That's fine. Last night at UFC 156 though, Tyron Woodley blasted him into oblivion in 36 seconds. A guy who had one career knockout in eleven fights. Is Hieron on the downside of his career at 36? I'm not sure, but it's pretty clear he won't be a contender in the UFC welterweight division after that.
Kim Winslow: Tonight's card featured some surprisingly accurate judging, but Ms. Winslow managed to chalk up another black mark for referees during the Bobby Green vs. Jacob Volkmann fight. Green earned a trip takedown in the second round and was methodically beating the crap out of Christmas for over half the round. Even though he was constantly working and never let up, Winslow chose to stand the fighters up. When the crowd unanimously boos a standup, you know it was bad. Volkmann promptly got his own takedown and might have stolen the round too, which made it even worse. Luckily, Green got the sub in the final stanza and it all worked out okay. But that doesn't excuse Winslow's consistently terrible calls. How she still gets prime assignments is beyond me.