UFC 112: Is BJ Penn Truly a Bigger Favorite Than Anderson Silva?

Erik FontanezCorrespondent IMarch 1, 2010

For the first time in the organization’s history, the UFC will make their way to the Middle East for UFC 112. The venture will take place at Ferrari World, a theme park with an outdoor arena suitable for events such as a UFC card.

The night is headlined by two title fights in Anderson Silva defending his middleweight belt against Demian Maia and BJ Penn defending his lightweight strap against Frankie Edgar .

Betting lines for the fights are as expected with Penn and Silva being the favorites in their respected bouts.

Silva sits at -600 against Maia’s +400...no surprise there.

Penn sits at -800 against Edgar’s +500 which makes him the bigger favorite compared to the odds of the middleweight champion, Silva.

The question is if, when it comes to competition, is BJ Penn the bigger favorite at lightweight than Anderson Silva is at middleweight?

The two fighters have recently put themselves in similar positions by completely decimating competition causing a stir in arguments about who could possibly contend with them.

The fact of the matter is, Penn and Silva are worlds above everyone else in their divisions.

The closest competitor to Penn was Kenny Florian and the Hawaiian dominated “Ken-Flo” for four rounds until submitting the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt with a rear naked choke.

Silva, on the other hand, hasn’t had a competitive middleweight fight for quite sometime now, resulting in lackluster performances, but who can blame him? He fights guys with no appeal in Thales Leites and Patrick Cote; two fighters who are nowhere near the talent and ability of Anderson Silva.

The camaraderie and rush for competition between athletes goes down when one is put up against someone of lesser skill.

Silva put in his third string quarterback when fighting Leites and Cote.

While Silva is theoretically lapping his division, Penn is yet to accomplish what the Brazilian has done at middleweight with only five fights since his permanent return to the division, compared to Silva at eight fights.

The reason for Penn’s odds being better than Silva’s for UFC 112 is simply the quality of opponent.

Frankie Edgar, although he was a competitive wrestler at Clarion University, does not have the stand up or ground game to contend with someone the caliber of a BJ Penn.

Even world renowned boxing coach Freddie Roach as gone on record to say that Penn’s boxing is the best in MMA. Penn proved his hands and head movement were world class against Florian and Sanchez.

Sanchez felt the full force of Penn’s boxing offense but it was his boxing defense that stuck out that night with Sanchez landing only eight strikes.

For Edgar to have a legitimate chance of beating Penn, he would have to out wrestle him for the duration of the bout; a task that is easier said than done.

With Penn’s takedown defense being next to insurmountable, Edgar has little to no chance of finding an edge in his first UFC title fight.

Demian Maia, however, seems to get more credit against, what many consider to be, the best pound-for-pound mixed martial artist on the planet in Anderson Silva.


Maia’s striking, though improved recently, is not as good as Silva’s and wrestling won’t be much of a factor in the match either. The fact that Maia is one of the most decorated jiu-jitsu practitioners in all of MMA puts him just that much closer to Silva than what Edgar’s skill set does against Penn.

Silva, as fierce and seemingly unbeatable as he is, has lost by submission before.

For those that have watched Pride, Ryo Chonan’s submission of Silva was one of the best tap outs in the sport’s history with a flying scissor heel hook.

If Maia is able to put Silva on the ground, and I’m sure he will, he might be able to find some daylight through grappling with the middleweight champ. This will truly test the durability of Silva’s Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt.

The problem for Maia in that situation is Silva’s defense in the guard is just good enough to fend off opponents and return fights to the feet.

In preparation for this fight, there is no doubt the Nogueira brothers are schooling Silva on the ground.

The argument of who the bigger favorite between Silva and Penn will continue to go on as long as time permits. The two will likely never face each other to determine pound-for -pound status, although Penn seems to want to fight anybody and everybody for bragging rights.

Look to see Penn and Silva come out as victors in their UFC 112 matchups on Apr. 10, 2010 in Abu Dhabi, UAB.

There is going to be another war in the desert.