UFC 156 marks a return to action for the oft-injured featherweight champion, Jose Aldo, who meets former lightweight ace Frankie Edgar in the evening’s main event.
Aldo has plenty to lose: A defeat to a first-time 145er, even one as amazing as Edgar, hurts the Brazilian’s overall stock, snatches the belt from his waist and eliminates him from top pound-for-pound consideration.
But despite everything Aldo has to lose Saturday night, two others on the card face a significantly greater fall should they fail to secure victory at UFC 156.
Rashad Evans is one fight away from a potential career godsend. If he can overcome the challenge known as Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, there’s a very real possibility that he migrates south to middleweight, where he’s being eyed as a strong possibility for Anderson Silva’s next title challenger.
I don’t see many ways for Nogueira to emerge victorious in this affair, and many would likely agree. Once a true destroyer of the light heavyweight division, "Minotoro" has lost more than a single step.
Antonio’s visibly slowed quite a bit, and he hasn’t exactly evolved with the sport. “Little Nog”—as fans often refer to him—still plods forward looking to slug it out and shows a lack of offensive potency in the wrestling department. These are areas that Evans should be able to exploit handily, as Nog’s weaknesses play to Evans’ key strengths.
Knowing these things hammers home the fact that a loss to Nogueira this weekend will send Evans' stock absolutely plummeting and eliminate him from any discussion involving Anderson Silva’s name.
And let’s face it, the chance to tangle with the greatest mixed martial artist of his generation is a professional fighter's dream opportunity.
But Rashad Evans isn’t the only man who stands to see his hopes of reaching the summit spill down the drain with failure this weekend. Alistair Overeem could watch a title shot slip right through his hands should Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva upset the hulking Dutchman.
Overeem’s already stared the UFC title down only to watch his shot slip away in light of a urinalysis that registered some shocking testosterone levels. Another setback this weekend could leave the former Strikeforce boss a few years distanced from a top contender match, let alone an official title shot.
It’s imperative that “The Reem” not only find success at UFC 156 but also pass any drug tests in the buildup and wake of the bout.
If Overeem wins Saturday and does so in impressive fashion while acing the inevitable drug tests, he’s next to challenge current heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez. If he stumbles in any area, it’s back to the drawing board for the multisport champion.
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