Marshall Art continues his preview of tonight's action with the title on the line.
Jose Aldo (c) v Frankie Edgar – UFC Featherweight Championship
Without wanting to detract from Jose Aldo's championship reign, the smaller weight classes in the UFC are woefully bereft of both quality and star power, as evidenced by the endless title opportunities handed to Urijah Faber. Frankie Edgar is a class above them all – and should probably still be the lightweight king.
Make no mistake – Jose Aldo is an outstanding fighter. However, outside of Faber, now a bantamweight, who has he beaten? The retired Kenny Florian, who never managed to win the so-called ‘big one' and Mark Hominick, who gave Aldo a beating in the 5th round of their bout before losing a further three fights and retiring.
His performance against Hominick is particularly worrying with Edgar in the frame. Of Aldo's three 5 round fights, Hominick is his only opponent to escape without a leg being destroyed by kicks. When his opponent is upwardly mobile in the championship rounds, Aldo would appear to have a cardio problem, not aided by his weight (and therefore his cut) seemingly increasing.
Frankie Edgar would seem to be a dire stylistic fight for Aldo. Even at featherweight, he won't be cutting an awful lot of mass, so we likely won't see his cardio diminish from lightweight. Likewise, strength was never an issue despite his lack of size. It's hard to argue that he won't appear even stronger fighting opponents 10lbs lighter.
That's not to say there aren't openings for Aldo to take advantage of. It worries me slightly that Edgar has been hit, and hit hard, in a number of his recent fights – Edgar/Maynard 2 and 3 being case in point. If there's one thing Aldo can do it's strike and he might have the chance to put this fight to bed early – if Frankie's miraculous recovery abilities don't come into play yet again.
It's not a bet to parlay but at such long odds Frankie Edgar (7-4, various) is phenomenal value.
Rashad Evans v Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
Rashad Evans is a lucky man. With Vitor Belfort ending Michael Bisping's title hopes, plans have changed and talk of Evans v Anderson Silva at middleweight has resurfaced.
Evans previously stated that he'd drop to middleweight for the right opportunity. With Anderson being ever more selective about his fights, and wanting to big money bouts against star names, Evans may be the best solution. A motivated Rashad Evans is not to be overlooked and worse wrestlers than he (in the form of Ryan Bader and Phil Davis) have dispatched Nogueira.
I don't see too many ways in which Rashad can lose this fight but at 2-9 (various), it's little more than parlay fodder.
Two losers from the flyweight tournament meet in what may just be a top contender bout, simply due to the dearth of alternatives in the division. I expected this fight to be the finals with Benavidez taking that bout but neither fighter lived up to expectations – though that does make this contest a little more interesting.
You could do far worse than backing Ian McCall (11-5, Ladbrokes and Skybet) to win this fight.
Typically I'd be reluctant to take Uncle Creepy here given the circumstances (an impending divorce and a poor recent performance) but things are actually looking up for him. He claims that this camp has had the least relationship trouble out of his three UFC assignments and his weight cut has clearly gone orders of magnitude better. Cutting over 15lbs in a day is at least somewhat of an explanation for McCall's loss to Johnson last time out – Benavidez can't say the same.
Super Single: Frankie Edgar (7-4, various)
Top Treble: Rashad Evans, McCall, Alistair Overeem (4-1, Bluesquare)
Bonkers Bet: Jon Fitch v Demian Maia to be fight of the night, (11-2, Paddy Power)