Featherweights Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar went toe-to-toe in the main event of UFC 156. It was a hotly anticipated superfight that promised to either confirm Aldo's status as a pound-for-pound great or see Frankie Edgar crowned as the third dual-division champion in UFC history.
Ultimately, Aldo picked apart Edgar in the early goings, busting open his nose and slamming "The Answer's" thigh with leg kicks to win the first three frames.
The challenger rallied late and looked to steal the fight by outpacing his opponent, however, the deficit was too big to overcome without a stoppage.
Breaking down the action in the cage, we can see how Aldo was able to overcome Edgar's constant pressure and pull off the biggest win of his UFC career.
Round 1 saw Edgar pushing forward and trying to close the distance while the champion stood his ground in the center of the cage while looking for counters. The shots that worked particularly well for the champion were a right uppercut and snapping jab that were fired as Edgar began to move forward.
Utilizing incredible kicking speed, Aldo won the first round after doing considerably more with shots to the legs and body as well as counterstrikes that greatly outnumbered Edgar's output.
Round 2 saw Aldo show off his ability to time Frankie's attack with a counter-jab, as well as his evasiveness when the challenger looked for takedowns. The leg kicks in this round were nasty enough that Edgar's knee buckled on impact on numerous occasions.
Edgar scored some shots in this round, but ultimately wasn't finding any substantial success at any point. For example, he caught a leg kick that earned him the only takedown of this round, but Aldo returned to his feet immediately.
Heading into the third frame, Aldo is up on the scorecards 20-18 without question.
Round 3 kicks off (pun intended) with Frankie catching a low kick to earn an immediate takedown. However, Aldo rose to his feet quickly and without absorbing any damage.
The Steven-Seagal-front-kick made an appearance in this round that busted open Edgar's nose, but didn't earn the highlight-reel knockout.
Frankie fought with more confidence in this round, landed more shots than previously and the gas tank of Aldo started to empty a little bit. The Answer is landing many leg kicks of his own and it's slowing down the champ.
However, Jose is the better striker and landed more efficiently while effortlessly shucking off takedown attempts.
Joe Rogan talks to the home audience as if Edgar conceivably won the round, but it was 30-27 after three rounds as the fighters prepared for championship rounds.
Round 4 was the best of the five for Frankie as he continues to land kicks and push forward with his boxing combinations. However, halfway through the frame, Edgar misses yet another takedown attempt, which UFC statistics show us was the sixth failure in seven tries.
One of the key tactics of Frankie in this round was dropping his head to evade punches while coming in with an overhand strike. Not only did this work during standup exchanges, but it also allowed him to feign a punch and sneak past Aldo's defenses for a slam takedown.
Frankie isn't doing a lot of damage, but he clearly won Round 4 despite the ever-growing mouse under his left eye and bleeding from his nose.
Round 5 sees Frankie fighting with a sense of urgency that we haven't seen at any point in the round. Although he continues throwing his leg kicks, head kicks became more common, and his punches had nastier intentions.
Aldo continued to shut out the takedown attempts and score counter punches, although Edgar isn't being fooled when Jose chooses to strike first.
The challengers punching combinations are landing well, although Aldo delivered a springboard Superman punch off of the cage in the fight's closing seconds.
Only one judge properly scored the fight 48-47, with the other two seeing it 49-46, all in favor of the champion.
The live crowd may have booed the decision, but it was by no means incorrect.
The champion used incredible technique to nearly double Frankie's total output. Halfway through the final round, the UFC flashed the total head strike statistic, which saw Aldo ahead 133-to-77.
Using phenomenal takedown defense, he consistently forced Edgar to fight in the standup world, and his ability to dictate this fight's location made all the difference in the world.
Technically speaking, this was a solid performance by Frankie against a fighter who is clearly one of the best pound-for-pound guys in the world. He was able to time the leg kicks of his opponent to score takedowns and changed up his timing during striking exchanges to avoid Aldo's counter-attacks that were so effective early on.
The fact that Edgar can continue to do so well against the best fighters on the planet nullifies the fact that he is currently amid a three-fight losing streak.