UFC has become a huge success, essentially the NFL of the mixed martial arts world, because of tremendous marketing. Part of that is putting good cards on some of the biggest sports weekends of the year. That is again the case this Saturday on the eve of the Super Bowl as a featherweight title fight between champion Jose Aldo and challenger Frankie Edgar is the main event of UFC 156 in Las Vegas. The UFC has held a card on Super Bowl weekend in Las Vegas since 2004.
Aldo and Edgar originally were to fight at UFC 153 in October, but Aldo had to withdraw because of a foot injury suffered from a September motorcycle accident. Few fighters in UFC are on a better run than the 26-year-old Brazilian. Aldo (21-1) is on a 14-fight winning streak and is 3-0 in the UFC; he left the WEC as the 145-pound champion. Scarface could be rusty as he hasn’t fought since Jan. 14 of last year, knocking out Chad Mendes late in the first round.
Edgar (15-3-1), a 31-year-old from New Jersey, enters off back-to-back losses to Benson Henderson in lightweight title fights. The Answer lost to Henderson in February 2012 by unanimous decision and then in the August rematch by split decision. It’s the first losing streak of Edgar’s career. This will be his first fight at 145 pounds after 13 straight in the UFC at 155 pounds.
Aldo is the -250 favorite at Bovada with Edgar at +195; it opened at -260/+200. Aldo has never been an underdog in the UFC. You have to go back to a November 2009 WEC fight against Mike Thomas Brown for the last time Aldo was a dog, and he won that by second-round TKO at +110. Edgar was at -145 for his first fight against Henderson and then +170 for the rematch.
Also on the card is a fight that could determine the next UFC Heavyweight Championship bout. Alistair Overeem was scheduled to fight then-Heavyweight Champion Junior dos Santos at UFC 146 in late May, but Overeem was denied a license in Nevada after testing positive for an elevated testosterone level and suspended for nine months. The former Strikeforce heavyweight king was officially granted his license earlier this month, and he faces Antonio Silva on Saturday.
Should Overeem win, he could be in line for a shot at Cain Velasquez, who regained the heavyweight belt by beating dos Santos via unanimous decision on Dec. 29. The 32-year-old Overeem (36-11-1) has not lost since 2007, going 11-0-1. The Demolition Man hasn’t been in the Octagon since destroying Brock Lesnar by first-round TKO in December 2011 in Overeem’s UFC debut. That earned Overeem the title shot before the drug test postponed it.
Silva (17-4) bounced back from a first-round TKO loss to Velasquez last May with a first-round win over Travis Browne in October. For a comparison, both Overeem and Silva have fought MMA legend Fabricio Werdum. Overeem beat him by unanimous decision in June 2011 (avenging a 2006 loss), while Silva lost to Werdum by unanimous decision in November 2009.
Overeem is the -375 favorite at the book and taking heavy action, with Silva at +285. The line opened at -350/+265. Overeem has been a favorite in each of his past six fights. Silva has been an underdog in his past two and closed at +170 in the upset of Browne.
Photo via Facebook/Jose Aldo