In addition to a highly anticipated double main event that includes the UFC 112 Lightweight Title rematch between “The Answer” Frankie Edgar and “The Prodigy” BJ Penn, as well as the Randy Couture-James Toney explosion, one other fight on the card seems to have all the makings of one hell of a fight in its own right.
On a night where the 155-pound title is being defended in front of a live crowd in the New Garden in Boston, one fight we must not overlook pits a former contender to the former champ against the man who is the only scrape on the otherwise-clean record of the defending champ.
It’s rough-and-tough wrestling in its full fluidity against a blend of disciplines that falls all the way back on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as Kenny Florian comes home to pick something more than a schoolyard fight with “The Bully” Gray Maynard.
Now we can talk all day about how Florian has beaten guys like Roger Huerta, Joe Stevenson, Clay Guida, and Takanori Gomi, and how he’s lost to guys like Diego Sanchez, Sean Sherk, and BJ Penn in his career, but exactly what is it—what could POSSIBLY keep the wrestling of Maynard at a minimal showing?
For the answer to this question, you need only go as far back as UFC 107, when Kenny Florian was able to use his striking to where Guida couldn’t use his own wrestling against him, and the result was Guida getting knocked down and submitted in the second round by rear naked choke.
While Maynard has shown that he can stand and trade in the past, his past two fights were far from the impressive performances that Kenny Florian has put on in his past two fights.
Some felt as though Roger Huerta should have gotten the win in his bout with Maynard, while the performance Maynard put on against Diaz was less than impressive in any respect.
Maynard needs to make certain that his striking is at a level where he can lower Florian’s defenses and score himself a takedown, and from there he can neutralize Florian’s top-notch BJJ in any way he pleases.
Hopefully, he does have a game plan for neutralizing Florian’s strengths, because he’s dealing with strong Muay Thai and some of the best Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in the Lightweight division apart from Penn’s.
Likewise, if Kenny Florian comes into this fight expecting that Maynard’s going to be going for takedowns for the entire 15 minutes, he may find himself being outstruck by a noticeably improved Maynard.
As far as the idea of going a full 15 minutes, I don’t doubt that both men could go for this whole time, and that stays as is until I kick back to watch Florian vs. Maynard at UFC 118 this Saturday, and I see either Florian or Maynard try to turn the fight into a riotous brawl in the first two minutes.
It’s easy to have that grinder mentality like Maynard or that great conditioning like Florian, but it goes out the window once you try to take the fight out of your own element.
Maybe that’s a one-sided argument to make, but we don’t know that it’s for sure going to be Maynard that has to refrain from fighting Florian’s fight.
He can if he weakens Florian on the feet, but that’s not locked in at the moment, nor is it a lock-in that Florian should be the one taking Maynard down.
Wrestlers tend to work well on the ground, just like BJJ guys work pretty well off their backs.
How does this one play out?
Well heck, I don’t know how it plays out.
Florian can stand and box with Maynard, or Maynard can take Florian down if he can catch a kick, or maybe Maynard submits Florian.
Then again, maybe Florian chokes out Maynard like he did Guida and Gomi, or maybe he knocks out Maynard.
Of course, there’s never too much solid reasoning to say that the fight is for sure not going to go the full 15 minutes, so maybe Florian dominates or Maynard dominates, and it’s also feasible that one of them wins by a thread.
I don’t know how this one is going to end — heck, I don’t even know if there are still title implications for the winner, although I might fight this one like it was for the belt if I were either man.
Not so much in the sense of turning the fight into a wild slugfest or anything, but I’d try my best to leave no doubt in the cage.
Either way, we won’t have to worry about these two guys trying their hearts out to convince anyone of victory come Saturday.
Kenny Florian is going to test Gray Maynard to see how badly he wants to be the champion, and all the same, Maynard is going to test Florian to see how badly he wants to get another crack at the belt.
The best man will win in Boston, and the champion will have a hell of a test ahead of him.
As far as the question of if Maynard will bully Florian in Boston on Saturday, we’re just going to have to wait until Saturday to find out, now won’t we?
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