Top MMA News Breaks Down UFC 118
UFC 118 is coming from Boston and BJ Penn will be looking to get back his Lightweight belt. Also on the card is a much-anticipated Boxing vs MMA matchup between James Toney and Randy Couture. In addition to these featured fights, the card is rounded out nicely with appearances by Gray Maynard, Ken Florian, Nate Diaz, and, hey, is that a return of Gabe Ruediger?
Frankie Edgar (12-1) +225 Vs B.J Penn (15-6-1) –357
No matter how great of a champion you are, somewhere down the road, you will underperform. Regardless of who you think won the April bout in Abu Dhabi, it’s what happened to B.J Penn that night. He was slow, sluggish and looked flat out strange. The very opportunist Frankie Edgar made the most of it and outworked the legendary Lightweight over five rounds. Will it happen again?
The Prodigy will arrive with a baggage of experience that will allow him to seize up Edgar more quicky and put him in deep waters in the early rounds. The New Jersey native has the odds stacked against him again due to his smaller frame and his lack of power. Penn is one of the most instinctive strikers in MMA, displaying a timing close to unnatural in fights against Sean Sherk, Kenny Florian and Diego Sanchez. He has an understanding of the stand-up game that Frankie Edgar has yet to display. He’s going to split one of Edgar’s dynamic combos with a thoughtful right hand early to send the wrestler on his back. From there, we all know how it’s going to turn out. No Lightweight yet has given a satisfying answer to the B.J Penn riddle.
Outcome: Penn by Rear Naked Choke in the third.
Randy Couture (18-10) –714 Vs James Toney (0-0) +400
I love James Toney. In a boxing ring, he has displayed predatory instincts that MMA fighters like Anderson Silva can only give a pale reflect and despite his age, his style kept him away from punishment overloads. James Toney is a young 42 years old. I was happy to see him cross-over to mixed martial arts. His counter-fighting style and his brash attitude are a welcome addition to any promotions. Even when he doesn’t want to, he can make things entertaining.
Although his sharp tongue might have befailed him this time. His boxing skills will get him so far, but the greatest champion of the sport’s history is a different kind of opponent than your random overweight 205’er doing his UFC debut. Randy Couture has been in there with pretty tough dudes and proved that his game worked on a championship level. What I think is going to happen is that the fate of James Toney will be decided within the scope of thirty seconds. Both guys will circle out for a long period of time (Toney won’t go forward…and he doesn’t care about being booed) and as soon as they will engage, we are going to be fixed on what is going to happen.
The interesting thing is that Couture will HAVE to eat punches to get inside. How he will react to them will dictate the outcome of the fight. I can’t see Toney causing enough damage to put a rugged veteran like Couture away immediately, but I can see him throw a tides turning counter right hand as The Natural will close in. Will it happen? It’s unlikely. But can it happen? Yes, logic says Couture, but I know better than to count a T-Rex like Toney out.
Outcome: Couture by Rear Naked Choke at the end of the first.
Demian Maia (12-2) Vs Mario Miranda (10-1)
This has the potential to be good. Not Sylvester-Stallone-Expendables kind of good, but rather Sharon-Stone-Michael-Douglas-Basic-Instinct kind of good. When the fight hits the ground, there’s no question who is the most skilled Jiu-Jitsu fighter. Maia should lock one of Miranda’s long limbs (if not his neck) and put him out of contention. But the twist in the plot is that Maia has struggled before in MMA against fighters of a bigger frame and Mario Miranda is as big and skilled as it gets in the Middleweight division.
Mario Miranda is a big, lanky and mobile Middleweight who can move pretty well. Not many UFC viewers know him because he did not have much exposure in the main cards, but he is for real. I can see him catching Maia with his terrifying, long kicks and unsettle the jiu-jitsu world champion. Will he throw Maia off his game and derail his methodic approach? Turning this fight into a brutal striking match could get Miranda a win and send him skyrocketing up the Middleweight stratosphere. Will Miranda stay to his Brazilian jiu-jitsu upbringing or will he turn this fight to his advantage?
Outcome: Upset of the night. Miranda by TKO in the third, after escaping the jaws of defeat.
Kenny Florian (13-4) –175 Vs Gray Maynard (9-0) +125
This can turn into a pretty solid fight. Maynard has proved to be dominant early in his career, but it seems that as time and fights pass by, opponents start to adapt to his dynamic boxing/wrestling game. His last two opponents Roger Huerta and Nate Diaz used their speed and reach respectively to give Maynard a hard time. MMA is a cruel mistress, if you do not move along with her, she is most likely to leave you behind. There is no such thing as settling down in MMA, you have to evolve on a fight to fight basis.
That, Kenny Florian understood pretty well after his loss to B.J Penn. Conscious about the shortcomings of his approach, he switched camps and during his last two fights, we have seen a completely revamped Kenny Florian. He displayed boxing skills that were both ferocious and intellectual, working behind his jab to mount dazzling attacks against Clay Guida and Takanori Gomi. Florian’s story has been one of a constant evolution. He was thrown in championship matches very early in his career, but if he keeps up, against Maynard, third time might be a charm for KenFlo.
Outcome: Florian by unanimous decision. Fight Of The Night.
Nate Diaz (12-5) –227 Vs Marcus Davis (17-6) +162
The Diaz brothers are unique characters. They are lanky, foul mouthed, fearless and they can kick your ass. I do not know one person (myself included) that did not doubt them at least once because of their scrawny look. More than just a smart boxer and a slick jiu-jitsu brown belt, Nate Diaz possesses a calm and an analytical spirit that few can claim in the octagon. Fighting seems natural to him, like he scrapped in the parking lot on his way to the venue, fights in the Octagon and will fight at least two times at the after party. I have never seen someone quite like him in the UFC.
Davis on the other hand also has an interesting story. After a prompt elimination from The Ultimate Fighter and a loss to Melvin Guillard, he re-engineered himself to enter the top 10 at 170. His new found grappling, combined with his high level boxing lead him to many successes. He’s in deep waters against Diaz though. Even if he has the upper hand in boxing, he’s way over his head on the ground. The younger Diaz brother is simply on another level. Davis is good and strong, but his more conventional grappling is not going to bother Diaz, who’s reached the ”conceptual game” game, not unlikes fellow Welterweight Dustin Hazelett.
Outcome: Diaz by Brabo Choke in the second. Submission Of The Night contender.
The undercard in a nutshell.
Joe Lauzon Vs Gabe Ruediger: Ruediger by Guillotine in the first. Other Submission Of The Night contender.
Nik Lentz Vs Andre Winner: Lentz by Unanimous Decision. He is used to stiffling more athletic foes. Winner’s game is not complete enough to overcome the American.
John Salter Vs Dan Miller: Miller by Arm Bar in the second. Salter will offer an energetic performence, but Miller will weather the storm.
Nick Osipczak Vs Greg Soto: Osipczak by TKO in the third. Expect Soto to win the first round. He is a decent up and comer, but Osipczak’s energizer bunny style is a bit of a rough stretch for his UFC debut.
Mike Pierce Vs Amilcar Alves: Pierce by Split Decision. I don’t know anything about Alves and I’m not sure Pierce does either. I’m expecting him to fall back on what he does best, wrestling people down.