From time to time, the UFC produces mega-cards that are full of top-level talent from top to bottom. For much of the last year, anything resembling one of these incredible events has either been massacred by ill-timed injuries or reshuffled to make up for somebody's inability to submit a clean drug test.
On Saturday night, UFC 156 became the first star-studded event to survive in its original form in recent memory. The card promised not only stellar action, but also superstars of the sport competing to prove their dominance over legitimate contenders in five different divisions.
The main event saw Frankie Edgar come up short in his bid to become a dual-division title holder, as well as the long-awaited returns of Alistair Overeem, Rashad Evans and Lil Nog, who have each been out of action for no less than 10 months.
If that weren't enough, Jon Fitch vs. Demian Maia and Joseph Benavidez vs. Ian McCall both promised to catapult fighters into their respective title scenes.
But did the action live up to the tremendous hype that was put behind UFC 156?
Of course not! How could it? Unless Alistair Overeem exploded Bigfoot Silva's head with a superman punch as a lead-in to Rashad Evans swinging Frankie Edgar like a baseball bat into Jose Aldo, there wasn't much chance of that ever happening. But it was still a solid card from top to bottom.
Kicking off the pay-per-view, Joseph Benavidez and Ian McCall had a battle of will where each man was able to control the action from time to time. However, in a night that lacked finishes, this was not what fans were hoping for.
Afterward, fans saw Jon Fitch in a one-sided grappling contest yet again. However, this time the sleeping aid of many found himself on the receiving end of constant pressure. His opponent, Demian Maia, dominated the contest to earn his third win in as many appearances at welterweight.
It was hardly a thrilling performance, as most of the contest saw Fitch successfully defending a rear-naked choke that threatened him for more than 11 minutes of the fight.
Thankfully, the third fight of the main card saw a tremendous knockout as Alistair Overeem was back in action for the first time in 13 months. However, the K-1 champion surprisingly found himself on the receiving end of the big KO against grappling ace Bigfoot Silva.
The outcome was bittersweet for many, as there were high hopes for a potential Overeem vs. Velasquez matchup for the UFC heavyweight championship. However, with Alistair testing positive for elevated levels of testosterone last year, many labeled "The Demolition Man" as a cheater and were ecstatic to see him knocked out.
So, more than halfway through the main card, fans were pretty restless. However, the co-main event and the headliner both promised to deliver fireworks. Right?
Rashad Evans and Antonio Nogueira tentatively boxed each other for 15 minutes until Lil Nog was awarded the upset-decision win. It was a monumental moment for the Brazilian; however, the lack of action certainly didn't win him any fans.
With only one fight left on the books, it was up to explosive striker Jose Aldo and Frankie "The Little Engine That Could" Edgar. If anyone could save this card, it's these guys.
The title fight won Fight of the Night honors and was a very engaging contest. However, Aldo predictably pulled ahead of his challenger in the early going and ultimately won a decision victory in a fight that contained very few highlights.
There is no doubt that this card will have an inflated payroll due to the incredible stars who were in action. However, at the end of the day, this card didn't live up to the excitement that fans shelled out $55 in hopes of seeing.