In five days UFC 118 will take place in Boston, Massachusetts. Personally I've been looking forward to this PPV since it was announced that BJ Penn would be given an immediate rematch after losing by unanimous decision to Frankie Edgar. But there are other reasons to be excited about this card as well. The other headline fight is between Randy Couture and James Toney. We all know that this fight is sure to draw the interest of many people outside of mixed martial arts world because of the intrigue of having James Toney with no MMA background other then boxing. For years the boxing world and MMA world have been debating on what would happen if a world class boxer were to step in the octagon. On the 28th we will all find out together. These are surely to be the two fights that get all the pay per view buys from fans, but below the surface are some other important fights. Here is my full preview of UFC 118.
First off we have Nate Diaz taking on Marcus Davis. Both fighters are coming off victories in there last fight and look to move up the ranks in the welterweight division. This is a pretty interesting fight and could be a hard fight to bet on. Nate Diaz is a more well rounded fighter having a solid ground game with a brown belt in jiu jitsu and lots of submission victories. But on the other hand he is very undersized in my opinion for welterweight, considering he often fights at the lightweight division. Marcus Davis looks huge at 170 pounds and will have a clear strength advantage. Davis has one thing on his mind when he steps in the octagon and that is knocking his opponent out. No doubt this is because he has a professional boxing background and knows he has the striking advantage on pretty much anyone he fights. But like all pure strikers this can also be his downfall. He often leaves himself open for takedowns and counterstrikes by overcommiting to a punch. My prediction is Nate Diaz squeaks out a split decision by getting the fight to the ground. Nate has never been knocked out in his career, that means he has a good enough chin to take some of the punches he is sure to encounter in this fight.
The fight between Kenny Florian and Gray Maynard arguably will have more impact for the future of the lightweight division than the main event fight between Penn/Edgar. Talk about a must win. The winner will almost surely be in line next for a title shot, while the loser will be dropped back to middle of the pack contender status. Both fighters want this badly for different reasons. Florian knows what is like to fight for the belt. He lost to BJ Penn last year in his most recent title shot attempt. With that experience you know he will be a better fighter if he is to ever get another chance. Maynard on the other hand feels that his title shot should have already taken place. As a matter of fact, he probably feels he should be the champ right now. When deciding who would be BJ Penn's opponent for UFC 112 there were two obvious choices Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard. As we know Frankie got his chance and the rest is history. If you would have asked me who was going to win this fight late last year I would have surely told you Gray Maynard. Gray is a world class wrestler and Kenny is a Jiu Jitsu fighter. But after watching Gray's lackluster performance versus Nate Diaz in January I have completely changed my mind. I look for Gray to be able to take the fight to the ground early, probably even winning the first round. But I have a feeling late in the fight Florian will submit Maynard. Florian has had success against wrestlers in the past submitting Guida and Joe Stevenson. I look for a similar result this fight.
Now James "Lights Out" Toney versus Randy "The Natural" Couture. James Toney has done his best Chael Sonnen impression leading up to this fight by talking as much smack as possible. But unlike Chael Sonnen who surprisingly backed up his smack talk with his most impressive fight ever, James Toney will prove to be all bark and no bite. Of course James Toney has a punchers chance. But does anyone really believe that Couture is going to give him any opportunities to stand in front of him? No! Couture won't even have to go through the struggle of going to the clinch and pinning his opponent up against the fence before taking him to the ground. That is something he executes on fighters with a well rounded fighting background. All Couture will do this fight is wait for James Toney to take a big swing at him, duck right underneath it and double leg him to the ground. From here it will be easy for The Natural. Ground and Pound or wait until Toney panics, gives up his back, put both boots in, and chokes him out. This fight is a lock and if you can find anyone stupid enough to give you decent betting odds bet the house on the 47 year old.
Now to the rematch I've been waiting four months for. Frankie Edgar shocked everyone by pulling off the biggest upset of the year and one the biggest upsets in UFC history. It wasn't without some controversy however. There are those who feel that BJ Penn should have won the fight on the basis landing more power strikes. No doubt the fight was a close one but to be honest I believe the outcry would have been much worse had the decision gone the other way. Edgar landed more often, was much more active, and had three takedowns on a guy who never gets taken down(GSP being the exception). But when you are the greatest lightweight ever, you apparently can get an immediate rematch a little bit easier than the rest of the world. Plus this fight is a little easier to sell then Edgar vs Maynard. This time around I don't see how this fight isn't anything but another nail biter. But again I will be betting on the 3/1 underdog Frankie Edgar. He is a better conditioned fighter which always helps in five round fights. He is the quicker of the two fighters. And once again I think in the later rounds he will be able to get the takedowns that are the difference. BJ Penn fans will argue that BJ didn't use his strengths in the last fight and this fight he will take the fight to the ground. My argument would be Frankie is a better wrestler and will prove to be very difficult for BJ to take to the ground. Edgar keeps the belt via unanimous decision. There ya have it folks!
Full list of Predictions:
Frankie Edgar over BJ Penn via unanimous decision.
Randy Couture over James Toney via 1st round TKO.
Kenny Florian over Gray Maynard via 3rd round submission(rear naked choke).
Nate Diaz over Marcus Davis via split decision.
Damian Maia over Mario Miranda via 2nd round submission(triangle choke).
Joe Lauzon over Gabe Ruediger via unanimous decision.