This, Maniacs, is a "super" fight that is appropriately scheduled to take place on Super Bowl weekend.
After failing to recapture his Lightweight title in his controversial rematch with Ben Henderson, Frankie Edgar will shed a dime piece and compete in the 145-pound division for the first time ever under the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) umbrella, aiming to become only the third man in mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion's prestigious history to win a belt in two different weight classes.
However, standing in his way is a man who -- at the age of 26 -- may already be the greatest Featherweight in the history of the sport, reigning UFC and former World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) champion Jose Aldo, who will defend his title for the third time in the UFC 156 main event.
And it's all set to go down this Saturday night (Feb. 2, 2013) at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
In addition, two of the Heavyweight division's biggest bruisers will lock horns when Alistair Overeem returns from his performance-enhancing suspension to face Antonio Silva, while Jon Fitch and Demian Maia battle for grappling dominance nearly 100 pounds lighter in the Welterweight division.
But, before all that, we've got a half-dozen "Prelims" under card fights to tide us over on Facebook/FX, the first three of which we breakdown below.
155 lbs.: Jacob Volkmann vs. Bobby Green
After suffering his first defeat at 155-pounds courtesy of British submission machine Paul Sass, Jacob Volkmann (15-3) came out looking to prove a point against Shane Roller, dominating the former wrestling standout before securing his first UFC stoppage via rear-naked choke. Now 6-1 since dropping to lightweight, "Christmas" has outwrestled the likes of Antonio McKee and Danny Castillo during his Zuffa tenure.
Volkmann is six years older than Green, although the two started their MMA careers less than four months apart.
Strikeforce import Bobby Green (19-5) was less-than-pleased when the judges awarded Gesias Cavalcante the win in their 2011 showdown and has taken out his frustration on the rest of the now-defunct organization’s lightweight division, defeating knockout artist James Terry and previously-unbeaten Matt Ricehouse as part of a four-fight win streak. Green has 15 stoppage wins, including guillotines of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) veterans Sevak Magakian and Daron Cruikshank.
Besides "JZ," his only loss since 2009 came at the hands of rising UFC lightweight Tim Means.
Green may have good striking and good takedown defense, but unless a fighter is truly a monstrous puncher or vicious off his back, beating Volkmann at 155 pounds will be a near-impossible task.
He is neither.
"Christmas" is slow and a non-entity on the feet, but damn if he doesn’t have some of the best wrestling in the division. His opponents know exactly what his gameplan is and are helpless to stop it. Green may land a couple good shots and he may avoid one or two takedowns, but Volkmann’s relentless pursuit of them is going to pay repeated dividends until he gets his back and scores his second submission inside the Octagon.
Prediction: Volkmann by second-round submission
135 lbs.: Francisco Rivera vs. Edwin Figueroa
The hard-punching Francisco Rivera (8-2) had perhaps the most impressive win of his UFC career nullified when, after starching Roland Delorme at UFC 149, he tested positive for an "over-the-counter" stimulant. The "No Contest" ended a three-fight win streak that included two knockouts in less than two minutes combined.
"Cisco" has gone to the judges just once since 2009 and all five of his knockouts have come in the first round.
Edwin Figueroa (9-1) has not competed in the Octagon since a February win over Alex Caceres that saw a two-point deduction for groin kicks carry the day for the knockout specialist. He was originally set to face Ken Stone at UFC on FX 4 before an injury scuttled the bout.
Like Rivera, "El Feroz" is not accustomed to going the distance, scoring eight finishes including six knockouts in his 10-fight career.
Sometimes, you just get a gimme. In one corner, we have a guy with no ground game, no striking technique and solid power. In the other, we have a guy with solid takedown defense, very crisp punching and mind-boggling power.
Rivera is arguably the single most dangerous puncher in the Bantamweight division and is light-years ahead of Figueroa in terms of slickness. Figueroa is going to come out swinging, but all that’s going to do is give "Cisco" repeated opportunities to put straight shots and tight hooks inside Figueroa’s wild swings.
And really, he only needs one.
Figueroa’s aggression is just going to make it that much more devastating when Rivera connects, which will most likely come in the first round via vicious knockout.
Prediction: Rivera by first-round knockout
135 lbs.: Chico Camus vs. Dustin Kimura
Roufusport’s latest UFC product, Chico Camus (12-3) survived several minutes inside a Dustin Pague triangle to score a unanimous decision victory in his UFC 150 debut. "King" had previously made it to the semifinals Legacy Fighting Championship "Tachi Tourney," defeating Daniel Aguirre and Alptekin Ozkilic by decision, only to be snatched up by the world’s largest fight promotion.
After scoring seven stoppages in his first eight wins, Camus' last five fights have all gone the distance.
Dustin Kimura (9-0) -- a training partner of Max Holloway -- recently scored the biggest win of his young career, beating down Japanese MMA stalwart Guy Delumeau in the waning seconds of their November clash. A submission specialist who has picked up six wins by tapout, Kimura has now finished two straight opponents with strikes, the only two (technical) knockouts of his 3.5-year career.
The Hawaii native spent most of his career fighting in his home state under the X-1 banner, racking up five of his nine victories.
If two years of pretending to be knowledgeable about MMA has taught me anything, it’s that in the eternal battle between grinder and submission specialist, the grinder wins if the submissions specialist’s guard scores less than .8 Aokis on the official "Stumberg Scale of Guard Shenanigans" (as a baseline the guard of Shinya Aoki is 1.3 Aokis).
I never said it was a very good scale.
In any case, Kimura doesn’t make the cut. He’s a decent striker, but hasn’t showcased the takedown defense to keep it standing nor the proficiency off his back to punish Camus for shooting in. Add first-time Octagon jitters to all that and you get a very boring, very disappointing debut.
Camus grinds him out in unexciting fashion.
Prediction: Camus by unanimous decision
Stop by tomorrow at the same time for a closer look at the three remaining "Prelims" bouts, including the Octagon debut of Strikeforce 170-pound title challenger Tyron Woodley.
See you then, Maniacs.
Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the UFC 156 PPV main card action, which is slated to start promptly at 10 p.m. ET. Up-to-the-minute updates and fight-by-fight coverage will begin to flow earlier than that, however, around 6:30 p.m. ET with the "Prelims" bouts on Facebook and FX.