Five things to watch for: UFC 156

Frankie Edgar. Photo courtesy of Gaspari Nutrition.

The UFC returns for its third event in consecutive weeks and it's a big one - the promotion's annual Super Bowl weekend event in Las Vegas.

This year's edition features a "superfight" of sorts as UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo will defend his title, welcoming former UFC lightweight king Frankie Edgar to the division. Alistair Overeem will also return to action for the first time after a year-long layoff due to suspension. He will face fellow Strikeforce import Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva for a shot at Cain Velasquez and the UFC heavyweight belt.

After the jump, check out five things that you should watch for during Saturday night's festivities.

Can Frankie Edgar make history?

Randy Couture and BJ Penn are the only two UFC fighters to hold two titles in two different weight classes. Edgar has the chance to become the third in two days when he faces Aldo. It is a tall task however. Aldo is the odds-on favorite, and his speed and style create a lot of problems for Edgar. We also don't know how Edgar's body is going to react at this new weight.

We can never count Edgar out after his wars with Penn and Gray Maynard though. If anyone will be able to take Aldo's barrage of punishing strikes and continue to push forward, it will be him. Will Edgar add to his legacy on Saturday night?

Ring rust a plenty

Alistair Overeem won't be the only fighter returning from an extended layoff at UFC 156. The same goes for Jose Aldo, Rashad Evans and his opponent, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. Overeem, Aldo and Nogueira all haven't fought in over a year; Evans, eight months. It's the longest gap in between career fights for all of the aforementioned.

All are involved in key fights and it is of the utmost importance that victory is achieved, which is why it will be interesting to see how much of a factor ring rust becomes. Some fighters aren't affected at all. Others come out looking flat and confused. Who will succumb to the unwanted respites they had?

The battle against obscurity

Not only is Evans-Nogueira a battle between two fighters coming off long hiatuses, it's a fight to see who can stay relevant. A loss at this juncture for either fighter would be a crushing blow to the remainder of their career prospects. Jon Fitch and Demian Maia are in the same boat. Neither fighter wants to get stuck in the quicksand of welterweight contenders, especially in their mid-30's.

Both Joseph Benavidez and Ian McCall are pioneers of the flyweight division, but the loser of their 125 lb. battle on Saturday night will be on the outside looking in for the near future. And Jay Hieron most certainly can't afford to be 0-4 all-time in the UFC after this weekend.

Here come the Strikeforcers

UFC 156 marks the first event that we will start to see those fighters being imported over after the demise of Strikeforce in action.

Standout wrestler Tyron Woodley makes his UFC debut against a tall order in seasoned veteran Hieron. Isaac Vallie-Flagg will debut in what should be an entertaining meeting with Yves Edwards. And last but not least, Bobby Green will get welcomed by the smothering top game of Jacob Volkmann.

Can "The Reem" punch his ticket to a title bout?

After Junior dos Santos' surprising loss to Cain Velasquez last month, the door is now wide open for Alistair Overeem to take advantage. A win over "Bigfoot" Silva will all but guarantee that Overeem will be Velasquez's next challenger for the UFC heavyweight title.

The remaining title contenders are all booked for this spring. Fabricio Werdum is locked into a "TUF Brazil" coaching stint and rematch with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Daniel Cormier wants no one but Frank Mir for his UFC introduction. An Overeem win gives him a chance to add another title to his resume.


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