On paper, UFC 156 is an easy front-runner for card of the year.
With a huge featherweight title fight, the return of Alistair Overeem and Rashad Evan's first fight since his title loss to Jon Jones, there's plenty of star power and intrigue surrounding Saturday night's action.
When all is said and done, nearly every division's title picture will be majorly impacted, and we'll see some fighters set themselves up for a huge year in 2013. Here's a look at the biggest fights of the night, with predictions and potential implications for each.
Alistair Overeem vs. Antonio Silva
Overeem could be the next big star for the UFC, and he'll make his return to the Octagon after a year-long layoff due to a suspension for a failed drug test after his stoppage victory over Brock Lesnar.
Standing in his way will be Antonio Silva, who is coming off of a huge win over Travis Browne.
Silva is an interesting opponent for Overeem. He has the power to make the fight interesting, and Overeem could be in trouble if Silva is able to land some power shots. However, Overeem is powerful in his own right, and Velasquez ran right through Silva.
Overeem by KO/TKO.
Rashad Evans vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
Evans returns to the Octagon for the first time since a disappointing decision loss to light heavyweight champion Jon Jones. He'll be faced with the task of taking down a grizzled veteran in Nogueira, who is coming off of a big knockout win over Tito Ortiz.
This fight could have a major impact on two weight divisions. Dana White acknowledged that, with a win, he would consider Evans for a title shot in the middleweight division against Anderson Silva (h/t USA Today).
If Evans really is interested in a drop down to 185, the title shot is his for the taking.
Nogueira's win over Ortiz is nice, but it doesn't overshadow the fact that he was coming off of back-to-back decision losses to Ryan Bader and Phil Davis. MMA math doesn't always work out, but the fact that Nogueira was beaten by Davis, who lost to Evans, isn't the best sign for Little Nog.
After the bitter disappointment of losing his long-awaited title shot, Evans will be looking to make a point. Look for him to use his wrestling to wear down Nogueira before ultimately finishing the fight off with some ground and pound.
Evans by KO/TKO
Jose Aldo (c) vs. Frankie Edgar
This is about as close to a superfight as the UFC has put on in recent history, and it should live up to expectations.
Edgar has long been a successful lightweight despite being relatively undersized for the division and will finally make the trip down to 145. Aldo has been nearly unbeatable throughout his career and is one of the sport's true pound-for-pound greats.
The implications for this fight are pretty obvious. The winner will be the champion, and if Edgar loses, he'll have a decision to make regarding which division he wants to fight in going forward.
At this point, Aldo has the well-earned reputation of being invincible. He has a 14-fight win streak going back to his pre-WEC days and has been as dominant a champion as anyone not named Anderson Silva or Georges St-Pierre.
However, he hasn't fought an opponent quite like Edgar.
Aldo has fought great strikers and great wrestlers, but Edgar is the most well-rounded opponent he's faced to date.
This will be an absolute war, but Edgar has all the tools needed to pull off the massive upset and score a decision victory.
Edgar by Decision
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