The Fenway faithful are in for quite a treat this Saturday evening. Boston has been transformed into an MMA mecca this week in preparation for UFC 118 Edgar vs. Penn.
With a UFC fan expo under way to both educate and involve fans in the sport of MMA, Boston is getting more than its share of the flavor of mixed martial arts. This is the first ever event held by the UFC in The Bay State.
The expo is just a lead up to a very stacked fight card with a whirlwind of hype surrounding it.
Oh the hype, it has blazed like a California wildfire, especially with the help of the Santa Ana wind power emerging from the pipes of boxing legend James Toney.
Toney has made the admirable leap to become the first ever accomplished pugilist to cross over from the sweet science into the Octagon and try his hand at MMA.
With him, he brought his bag of trash talk tricks, and his ability to hype a fight no matter how ridiculous or inaudible his commentary may seem. “Sheeba shooba shaaba, uhhh Randy Couture, shimma shamma princess, ama getcha.”
One accomplished and historical mixed martial arts legend in Randy Couture, 13 years in the making. One accomplished and historical boxing legend in James Toney, 22 years in the making.
Randy Couture beating James Toney so bad that we can finally understand what he is saying...timeless.
Anyway, point in case, Toney is talking up a storm regardless of the clarity or insanity of his comments. He is doing an amazing job of hyping a fight and even to an extent convincing some people he can hang.
The problem with hype in combat sports is this; hype will only carry you to the cage doors. When they close, and you find yourself staring across at “The Natural” the only thing that will help you in the sport of MMA is a world class ability, a lot of hard work, and experience.
Toney has a world class fighting ability, that much is certain. Hard work and experience? Those two maybe not so much. Not in the realm of MMA anyway, nine months is not enough to learn how to stop the masterful game plans and execution of a guy like Randy, sorry Toney.
In the end, it's a fun fight to talk about, both fighters have done their part to make it an interesting lead up, and soon all the sideshow antics can be put to bed. One has to imagine shortly there after James Toney’s MMA career should follow.
On a more serious note though, this card has much more to offer than the novelty of boxing vs MMA. All the way to the under card, UFC 118 has a lot of promise.
In particular, fighting for his home crowd Joe Lauzon will take on Dave Rudiger in a preliminary fight on Spike TV. This fight pits two submission specialists against one another in what should prove to be quite a technical fight.
Also Andre Winner and Nick Lentz will look to get the night and the blood pumping as they will also be showcased on Spike TV as the first televised fight of the evening.
On to the main card, it also starts with a great match up between Nate Diaz and Boston fighter Marcus Davis. Diaz makes his debut at welterweight against a very dangerous Davis.
Diaz is a slick submission specialist and according to the man who has fought him twice in Gray Maynard, his lanky build, strong chin, and southpaw approach makes for an ugly fight against anyone he faces.
Davis on the other hand is a striking specialist who likes to bang. He can submit too but is typically known for his striking prowess. It wont be surprising to see him look to out strike Diaz as Diaz looks to use his awkward style to get this fight down.
If and when it finds its way to the ground, Diaz can neutralize the perceived size differential with slick BJJ from the top or even from his back where he is particularly lethal.
Either way it goes, this one has war written all over, as do many of the evenings matchups.
Case in point, how about offering No. 1 contender status to two guys in the lightweight division who have earned a lot of respect with the war that they bring.
Kenny Florian will fight in front of his home crowd against a very tough Gray Maynard. Florian is a very technical submission wizard, and one of the hardest working and most intelligent fighters in the business.
Maynard on the other hand is one of the most persistent grinders and accomplished wrestling based fighters in the LW division. He has never officially tasted defeat and looks to pass on it one more time in Boston.
Kenflo will have the support of his home crowd, Maynard will have the confidence of knowing it's just him and Kenny when the cage door closes. No matter how this one plays out, the fans will be the true winners for sure.
BJJ wizard Demian Maia will fight dangerous striker Mario Miranda as well. This is a fight where Maia will look to bounce back from a less than eventful title fight against Anderson Silva in Abu Dhabi.
Miranda will be looking to make his presence in the division known against a well known specialist in Maia. This is a classic style vs style match up and could prove quite compelling. Time will tell if this fight is a sleeper on a stacked night of fights.
Toney vs Couture, "sheeba shooba shabba, James Toney is getting taken to school and beat downa." Class dismissed.
In the main event Boston fans have the distinct honor of seeing a rematch of a very compelling upset contested in April.
Current Champion Frankie Edgar shocked the world when he outpointed B.J. Penn to steal his title belt away in a fight very very few people even bothered to make predictions on. Penn was supposed to slice through Edgar like a hot scalpel through butter.
Edgar had other plans.
While some people still believe Penn did enough to keep his title, the officials sitting cage side beg to differ. In the fight of his life Frankie Edgar used beautiful foot movement, amazing angles, and crisp striking combined with well timed take downs to come out on top.
Even still, the consensus was that Penn wins that fight on paper six out of seven days of the week. Well that was Monday, today is Tuesday and Penn will get his chance to prove he is still a champion and that today is his day to shine.
It is up to Edgar to keep that title and quite possibly change the LW division forever by beating Penn again. Once again, Penn seems the favorite to pull it off, but to disbelieve in Edgar now is to disregard pure facts which may seem a hard pill to swallow.
In the end, it is the fight yet to happen, not our predictions and expectations that really compel us. It is the idea that we might think we know a little something about this sport, but the fact that no one really knows that makes it so interesting.
All of the fights mentioned have elements of expectation and doubt in some cases. Until Sunday morning though, we can all just sit back and enjoy the fact that we are just deer staring into headlights, waiting to see if we can calculate what's coming or if we are going to be slammed by the unexpected.
This article originally featured at Hurtsbad.com