Jose Aldo, of Rio de Janeiro celebrates his unanimous decision victory over Frankie Edgar just after their UFC 156 featherweight mixed martial arts title match, Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013 at The Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Eric Jamison)
Updated: February 3, 2013 2:07AM
LAS VEGAS — Featherweight champion Jose Aldo retained his title with a victory over Frankie Edgar in the main event of UFC 156 on Saturday night.
Aldo used his precise striking and effective leg kicks to neutralize the constant pressure from the former lightweight champion, winning a unanimous decision for his 15th consecutive victory.
“I’m very happy and I don’t plan to lose my belt any time soon,” Aldo said through a translator.
Aldo looked solid in the first three rounds, controlling the fight and landing the more significant strikes. Edgar pressed forward in the final two periods, trying to spark a change in momentum, but the Brazilian champion was too elusive.
The judges’ scores were 49-46, 49-46 and 48-47 in favor of Aldo, who improved to 22-1. Edgar fell to 14-4-1.
“It was a very difficult fight,” Aldo said. “Frankie is a very dangerous fighter and I had to take it step by step.”
In the co-main event of the UFC’s annual Super Bowl-adjacent show, heavy underdog Antonio Rogerio Nogueira earned a unanimous decision victory over former light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans. Nogueira controlled the match with superior striking and wrestling defense, and all three judges scored the bout 29-28.
On the under card, heavyweight Alistair Overeem’s hopes for a title fight were derailed when Antonio Silva earned a surprise third-round TKO. Demian Maia won his fourth in a row with a unanimous decision over perennial welterweight contender Jon Fitch, and former title contender Joseph Benavidez won a battle of highly ranked flyweights with a unanimous decision over Ian McCall.
Aldo remains among the UFC’s top handful of pound-for-pound fighters despite a 13-month absence from the cage caused by a series of injuries. His kicks are among the most vicious in MMA, and his overall agility in the cage can be stunning to opponents and fans alike.
He controlled the first round Saturday night, landing multiple crisp shots and bloodying Edgar’s nose early. Edgar tried to increase the pressure in the second, but Aldo continued to land effective punches and kicks.
Aldo kept his distance in the third round while maintaining his striking advantage, landing a huge front kick to the face of Edgar. Edgar’s nose continued to bleed and his face was battered by the end of the round.
Edgar pressured Aldo and even slammed him to the ground in the fourth, but it was too late as Aldo was able to weather the late storm.
Edgar was trying to become the third UFC fighter to win a title in two different weight classes.
“It was a close fight, I keep finding myself in these positions,” he said. “I’m just going to go home and take some time to think about things.”
In the preliminary bouts, Evan Dunham earned a split-decision victory over Gleison Tibau, and Tyron Woodley stopped Jay Heiron with an electric first-round knockout. Bobby Green forced Jacob Volkmann to tap in the third round, and UFC newcomer Isaac Vallie-Flagg won a split decision over journeyman Yves Edwards. Dustin Kimura won his first UFC fight when he forced Chico Camus to tap in the third, and Francisco Rivera defeated Edwin Figueroa by TKO in the second round.