You read their articles, you watch and listen to their interviews, but often the personal opinions of the mixed martial arts (MMA) media get brushed over.
These media members have inside knowledge of the sport and a unique perspective of the fighters they have the privilege of interacting with. Before you place that bet in Vegas or with your friends, be sure to check out what those most educated about the sport have to say about the upcoming event.
Read as 13 of the sport's writers and reporters break down and predict the UFC 156 featherweight championship main event of Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar.
Mike Bohn (MMA Mania): If Jose Aldo fights with a disciplined strategy, he should be able to take care of Frankie Edgar fairy handily in the UFC 156 main event. As we know, Aldo is a killer when it comes to the leg kicks. Edgar, on the other hand, has proven susceptible to leg attacks in his last two fights with Benson Henderson. If Aldo finds success attacking Edgar low, he surely won't abandon that strategy as Henderson did at UFC 150. Now obviously, using a kick-heavy attack on a fighter like Edgar leaves one open to takedowns, but that's not a huge problem for "Scarface" due to his tremendous takedown defense and scrambling abilities. Moreover, Edgar hasn't shown his ground-and-pound or submission game to be particularly lethal against elite fighters, which leads me to believe Aldo will be able to survive even if he is put on his back. From Edgar's standpoint, it's hard to see him winning any other way but a five-round decision. For Aldo, he has that Anderson Silva-esque feeling to his fights where he can explode and end his opponent's night in the blink of an eye. The reigning champion has a higher capability of bringing violence to the table and that's going to be the x-factor that leads him to becoming the first man to stop Edgar. Jose Aldo via second-round TKO.
Dave Doyle (MMA Fighting/SI.com): This is one of the most difficult fights to pick I've encountered in seven years covering MMA. Will Frankie's speed and footwork advantage hold up at the lighter weight class? Will Aldo be rusty coming off a year away from the Octagon? I reserve the right to change my mind between now and Saturday, but as of now, I think the cumulative effects of Aldo's leg and body kicks will make the difference in the late rounds. Jose Aldo via decision.
Damon Martin (MMA Weekly): I'm going with Frankie Edgar - I think the move to 145lbs will only be a good thing for Edgar, who was already one of the top lightweights in the world, and arguably beat the current champ if not for a controversial decision. Edgar's speed will translate just fine to featherweight, his boxing is on point working with coach Mark Henry, and he has very quick and effective takedowns. Also, don't forget Jose Aldo has been off for an entire year dealing with various injuries and if his timing is off even slightly, Edgar will capitalize.
Brett Okamoto (ESPN): I've been excited about Frankie Edgar dropping in weight for so long, my initial thoughts when this fight was announced was that I liked Edgar to get the win. Now that the fight is nearly here, I'm not as confident. He's at featherweight, but ironically, he's still fighting a pretty big guy in Jose Aldo. On top of dealing with Aldo's size, now he also loses that speed advantage he had when he was fighting lightweights. I still think overall speed, Edgar is a little faster than Aldo, but not as explosive. Big question mark for me here is Aldo's defensive wrestling. We've seen it's above average, but Edgar will be his toughest test in that area, more so than Chad Mendes. Edgar is so intelligent with his game plans and he reacts well in the cage. I think he'll get Aldo down at times in this fight and I think he'll challenge him in a way he's maybe never been in his entire career ... but I think he rises to it and keeps the belt.
Chuck Mindenhall (ESPN): Frankie Edgar wins a lot of different ways. His game plans are solid. He pressures, he reacts. He adapts well, and it seems like he has an extra gear as fights go along. And, as he has proven a million times, he can take punishment. It's this last thing that looks like a big red flag against a guy like Jose Aldo. Aldo is quicker than Gray Maynard and far more precise than Benson Henderson. He's quicker than those guys, too. So what happens when one of the games most dynamic strikers takes on a heart-driven champion with endurance and a chin? Aldo early, Edgar late. But a little too late. Jose Aldo by decision.
Guilherme Cruz (Tatame): UFC 156 has potential to be a historical night for the Brazilians, but it can go the other way into a complete disaster. In my opinion, Aldo's fight brings less "danger" if compared to Nogueira-Evans, Silva-Overeem and Maia-Fitch matchups, but is far from an easy one. Edgar has a great wrestling game, quick hands and tons of heart, but I don't see dealing well with Aldo's pressure. He had problems (twice) in the past against Maynard, and let's be honest, Aldo has more weapons and power than the former lightweight contender - who turns out to be his new occasional training partner. Jose Aldo wins by TKO.
Jason Nawara (Middle Easy): When it really comes down to it, I'm thankful for Frankie Edgar vs. Jose Aldo. I'm thankful it's happening (fingers crossed), I'm thankful the matchup was even made, and I'm thankful that Frankie decided to move down a weight class. I truly believe Frankie could hang with the majority of lightweights in the UFC, and at 145, he's now a 'decent' sized featherweight who could probably go on a hell of a run in the division. With that said, I think Jose Aldo will probably be considered the best featherweight to step foot in the cage for years to come, until the inevitable happens and he moves up to lightweight. There's been talk back and forth of whether or not this is considered a 'super fight' and I personally think it is. One that we might see more than once if Frankie does the impossible yet again. So who wins? Jose Aldo if he can actually stop Frankie early, and there's no reason why he shouldn't be able to do that. But if it goes into deep waters I think Frankie has what it takes to slow down Jose and wear him out. Damn, I don't want to pick a winner... Let's go with Frankie, the underdog pick. Since we all got Cain vs. JDS wrong I will go with the pick I don't think the rest of the crew will take. A hipster move, I apologize.
Adam Martin (Sportsnet): Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar is a true super fight and one that's somewhat difficult to predict. On the one hand, you have Aldo, who has been nothing short of dominant during his long reign as both the WEC and UFC featherweight champ. And on the other hand, you have Edgar, who was the UFC lightweight champion and who many feel should be holding the belt right now instead of Benson Henderson. The biggest question coming into this fight is of course how will Edgar respond to the cut to 145? In my opinion, it will be the move that wins him another title in the UFC. At 145, Edgar is going to be faster than ever. And against Aldo, who is coming off a bad foot injury sustained in a motorcycle accident, that speed is going to help him dance around Aldo, pick up points, and eventually win a judges decision. Don't get me wrong, I respect Aldo a ton and he can knock out Edgar at any time over the course of the five rounds, but we've seen time and time again that Edgar can take a punch. We've also seen that his cardio is fantastic, while Aldo's is a little suspect. We've also seen that the key to beating Aldo is to take him down, and although that's been hard for everyone, Mark Hominick did it once so Edgar can too, especially when Aldo fatigues in the later rounds. This will likely be a close fight on the judges' score cards, but I'm going with Edgar to become the new UFC featherweight champion by winning a unanimous decision.
Jason Moles (Cage Potato): I'm just going to cut to the chase; Frankie Edgar will beat Jose Aldo... if he can survive the first round. Too many people, when they're analyzing this fight, are over thinking the room. Edgar hasn't lost a fight since his first scrap against Gray Maynard back in 2008 - regardless of what the judge's scorecards may have said to the contrary. Furthermore, the New Jersey native is the antithesis of the majority of Aldo's past competition. This man does not wilt under pressure nor does he fade as the fight progresses, but rather seems to posses reserves of strength, energy, and power for the championship rounds. The champ will face his toughest competition on Saturday night and his normal MO isn't going to be effective against "The Answer." It may not end in a highlight reel knockout or wicked submission, but one way or the other, the featherweight title is changing hands.
Jeremy Brand (MMA Sucka): Frankie Edgar is dropping down to his natural weight class and will be a very tough test for Jose Aldo. An even tougher test because Aldo has had such a long layoff. Aldo has not looked like the beast he was in his WEC days since moving over to the UFC, however I see him winning this fight. My pick is Jose Aldo by unanimous decision.
Karim Zidan (The Flying Knee): It is almost a crime that this fight did not happen sooner. Many fans and media members alike still believe that Frankie Edgar is the best lightweight in the world and come Saturday night, he could potentially become the best featherweight as well. Edgar arguably represents a tougher stylistic match-up for Aldo than any of the champ's recent challengers. Aldo may be the better striker of the two but he will likely have to deal with Edgar's varied grappling arsenal, constant pressure and potentially his superior stamina as well. With the champs documented weight cut issues and interest in moving up to lightweight the timing is perfect for Edgar to pull off the upset. If Aldo is unable to take control of the fight in the early rounds, look for Edgar to outpoint and out-grapple the long-time champ en route to a decision win. Frankie Edgar via decision.
Ian Bain (MMA Opinion): Like most fans, I anticipate a very competitive fight between two of the top pound-for-pound fighters in MMA. It will be interesting to actually see Frankie Edgar fighting in a division that suits his body size. The fight ultimately I think will take place on the feet, Edgar is a fantastic wrestler but Aldo has shown stellar takedown defence. Now on the feet, the key will be for Aldo to use his excellent leg kicks to try and slow the movement of Edgar down. Benson Henderson did a good job of punishing Edgar's legs early on in their second fight and I see that being the champion's blueprint to victory. Edgar meanwhile will need to use his movement and push the pace of the fight, it has been over a year since Aldo fought so taking him in to the later rounds may bring joy for the challenger. I do think that even if he takes Aldo down he will struggle to keep him there long enough to score on the cards. It is for that reason that I think Aldo wins a close competitive fight. Jose Aldo takes a unanimous decision.
James Brydon (Sportsnet): Many people have questioned the quality of opponents that Jose Aldo has faced, but you can only fight the guys who are placed in the cage in front of you, and he has run through them in spectacular fashion during his 11-fight unbeaten streak in the WEC/UFC. If Frankie Edgar was unable to find his range or do enough against Benson Henderson to convince three judges he won a fight, I don't see him doing it against Aldo, who is faster and more elusive and probably hits harder than Henderson. Jose Aldo by unanimous decision
Media picking Jose Aldo: Eight
Media picking Frankie Edgar: Five
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.
For the latest UFC 156 news and notes check out our complete event archive right here. To check out the latest "Aldo vs. Edgar" fight card and rumors click here.