Antonio Rogerio Nogueira sprang the upset in the UFC 156 co-main event. | Sherdog.com File Photo
UFC 156 “Aldo vs. Edgar” on Saturday at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas proved this much: being a promotional newcomer does not mean squat and being a heavy favorite is certainly no guarantee of a win. Probability be damned, six of the 11 bouts resulted in underdog victories.
Let us take a closer look at the details:
Rashad Evans was the biggest favorite of the night (-575), but one certainly could not tell by watching him in the cage. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira’s jab and cross were the stories in what turned out to be a rather lackluster encounter. Evans made a tactical error by choosing to box with a superior boxer and walked away with a unanimous decision loss as a result. Nogueira also effectively stuffed Evans’ takedown attempts and gained the upper hand in the scrambles.
Evans had company in his misery.
Being a 3-to-1 underdog did not faze Antonio Silva, but it is fair to say that former Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem, a -425 favorite, took him too lightly. The “Demolition Man” was dominant until the third round, battering Silva with knees and punches in the first and second. “Bigfoot” scored with some hooks and a head kick at the start of round three and followed up with punches in bunches. It was not long before referee Herb Dean called a stop to the fight, as Overeem suffered his first loss since 2007.
Meanwhile, Jon Fitch’s stellar submission defense allowed him to survive three rounds with Demian Maia, but he was badly out-grappled by the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. Maia landed a steady stream of takedowns and effectively nullified the American Kickboxing Academy veteran for 15 minutes. Maia, a +140 underdog, remains undefeated in three appearances at 170 pounds.
Fitch was not the only wrestler who exited the cage beaten and dejected.
Jacob Volkmann’s relentless takedowns were not enough to stop promotional newcomer Bobby Green, whose metabolic conditioning, takedown defense, strong top game and ground-and-pound set the stage for victory. Despite a perplexing restart from referee Kim Winslow in the second round, Green managed to control the final two frames, cinching a deep rear-naked choke with just 35 seconds left in the fight. Green, a +325 underdog, banked the “Submission of the Night” bonus for his efforts.
Elsewhere, Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts representative Isaac Vallie-Flagg not only managed to avoid getting knocked out by Yves Edwards, a -240 favorite, but also forced the action and dictated the pace in their lightweight bout. He walked away with a split decision victory. The second round was the most precarious for Vallie-Flagg, as he used wrist control to narrowly avoid a rear-naked choke. However, he utilized front kicks, long punches and elbows to walk away with the win, despite entering the cage as a +190 underdog.
Finally, undefeated Hawaiian prospect Dustin Kimura may have disappointed at weigh-ins, where he tipped the scales overweight at 139.5 pounds, but he fared far better inside the Octagon. Although he came into the bout against Roufusport export Chico Camus as a slight underdog at +105, his Brazilian jiu-jitsu background made all the difference. Camus rocked Kimura with a heavy right hand in the first round and showcased solid striking throughout their encounter, but he repeatedly -- and inexplicably -- chased takedowns throughout the bout. The man they call “The Diamond” attempted submission after submission, including an omoplata, armbars and triangle chokes, but it was not until round three that the Hawaiian secured mount, transitioned to Camus’ back and ended the match with a rear-naked choke. Had Camus stayed with his strength and kept the bout standing, the result might have been different.