UFC 156: Which Fighter Has the Most to Gain?

Andrew SaundersCorrespondent IIFebruary 1, 2013

ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 21:  Rashad Evans walks away after a round against Jon Jones during their light heavyweight title bout for UFC 145 at Philips Arena on April 21, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

UFC 156 is an outstanding card that promises to be an action-packed and paradigm-shifting event. From the moment that the main card begins, the title pictures of the flyweight, featherweight, lightweight, welterweight, middleweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight divisions will be altered.

With so much happening in such a short period of time, there is a lot on the line for a lot of different fighters. But of everyone competing on Saturday night, who has the most to gain?

You might be wondering why the middleweight and lightweight divisions were included in that list considering that there are no fights in either division occurring on the pay-per-view. Let's address those first.


Jose Aldo

UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo is currently the No. 4-ranked pound-for-pound fighter on the planet. When he faces Frankie Edgar in the evening's main event, it will have an immediate impact on both the 145-pound and 155-pound divisions. 

Aldo has been discussing a future move to lightweight for some time but stated in an interview with ESPN that he thinks that the time will be right if he defeats the former lightweight champion.

For that reason, an argument could be made that Jose Aldo has the most to gain on Saturday night, as a victory could see him skip over Anthony Pettis and fight for the UFC lightweight title by the end of 2013. The opportunity for one man to hold two belts simultaneously in the UFC has only been afforded to one man previously (BJ Penn), and he came up short.


Rashad Evans

The other division that could be surprisingly impacted at UFC 156 is the middleweight division. Why? Because fans can't stop talking about Rashad Evans as a potential contender for Anderson Silva's middleweight championship.

Michael Bisping losing to Vitor Belfort in January leaves a question mark next to Anderson Silva in his next fight. If Evans defeats Lil Nog on Saturday night, you had better believe that he is going to put the trash-talk pedal to the metal and sneak into a title fight at 185 pounds. 

There is very little chance that Evans will see a title shot at 205 in the foreseeable future unless Jon Jones loses his belt. For that reason, this fight could save Evans' career and afford him the opportunity to defeat the most invincible champion in UFC history.


Alistair Overeem

Some feel that Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem has the most to gain on Saturday due to his promised title shot that will be collected upon victory.

Not only does Overeem have a shot at gold hanging in the balance, but he also gets to squash the beef against rival and former Blackzilian fighter Bigfoot Silva in one shot.

The opportunity to pass a drug test is a win in itself for the Dutchman. 


Jon Fitch/Demian Maia

Welterweights collide in the second fight of the main card as Jon Fitch and Demian Maia look to make a case for a title shot against Georges St-Pierre. 

Both men are coming off of impressive victories, and each man is ranked within the division's top 10. The opportunity to stand out in a crowded division such as 170 pounds is absolutely incredible, and a decisive win could drastically alter GSP's summer schedule.


Joseph Benavidez

Some feel that Joseph Benavidez is the best contender for UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson. The two had a solid battle at UFC 152 that was fairly close and nearly saw Benavidez pull off a guillotine choke for the win.

However, Jo-Jo came up short in the decision and gets the chance to defeat fellow contender Ian McCall on Saturday night. If he emerges victorious in impressive fashion, there is a good chance that he will rematch the champion later this year.

McCall doesn't stand to earn a title shot in this fight. He has already faced Johnson twice and was unable to earn a win in either contest.


Frankie Edgar

The question at hand is, who has the most to gain at UFC 156? The Answer is "The Answer" Frankie Edgar. While many fighters on the card are fighting for a chance at greatness, Edgar stands alone with the most to gain.

Not only can Edgar wrap the UFC featherweight championship around his waist, but as a former UFC lightweight kingpin in his own right, he can become the third fighter in history to be a multidivisional UFC champion.

Joining the likes of BJ Penn and Randy Couture, there is no doubt that Edgar has an opportunity to join the best of the best and guarantee himself a future berth in the UFC Hall of Fame.


Good luck to all of the fighters who have an opportunity to strike it big on Saturday night. 

Stay tuned to Bleacher Report MMA for all things UFC 156, including previews, live coverage and post-fight analysis.