Last night's UFC 118 was somewhere between being lackluster, and being a complete barn burner. The night was saved by Frankie Edgar's masterful performance against BJ Penn in the main event.
That fight answered a lot of questions about both fighters and raised some interesting new ones.
Let's start with what we learned from the entire UFC 118 Card:
We didn't learn much about boxing versus MMA, but we did learn that James Toney is more than willing to embarrass himself for a paycheck. I was personally disappointed that Toney didn't at least get one punch off before being taken down.
I'd also say we learned Randy Couture is on the Juice like a Jersey Shore kid. Seriously, who looks like that at 47???
We learned Gray Maynard is a beast and Kenny Florian shrinks under pressure.
We also learned that Maynard may not have the skills to finish fights. His wrestling is tremendous, but I'm not seeing a lot of power in his hands or options to finish on the ground. He hasn't finished a fight in OVER 2 years.
We learned that Marcus Davis is done. I would be surprised if he wasn't cut by the UFC in the next few days. Scrappy and undersized can work when you're 27, not 37.
We learned again that Nate Diaz is effing crazy, and can't get through an interview without mentioning Stockton, CA. We also learned that the Stockton slap boxing style is somehow effective even against a former professional boxer.
We learned that Damien Maia is more than just that guy from UFC 112 Anderson Silva danced around. I thought his takedowns and stand-up looked much better against Miranda.
Though neither of those two should consider professional boxing.
We learned that BJ Penn "resting harder" than ever before for this fight, probably was not the best idea. We also learned that, no disrespect to Freddie Roach, but BJ Penn doesn't even have the best boxing in the Lightweight division. Let alone all of MMA.
We didn't necessarily learn that BJ Penn is overrated, or a fraud but we did learn that Frankie Edgar is a BAD matchup for BJ. Those guys could fight 10 times and Frankie would win 8 or 9.
Watching the fight I was most reminded of the recent WEC title fight between Dominick Cruz and Joseph Benavidez. Edgar and Cruz's movement was constant throughout both of these fights and you could see the confusion it was creating in their opponents.
After the second round neither Penn nor Benavidez had any idea where the attacks were coming from or what they could do to stop it.
To steal a page from Bill Simmons, by Round 4 Penn was making the same face Rocky made in his first fight with Clubber Lang where he memorably screams at his corner " I can't keep this guy off a me!!".
Edgar suffocated Penn with his movement, his superior boxing, and game plan.
We also had some interesting questions raised by UFC 118 as well. Such as:
- Is there any way Frankie Edgar can beat Gray Maynard? Talk about a bad style match-up for Edgar. Edgar is the smallest UFC Lightweight, Maynard is the biggest and strongest. I don't think Edgar can keep this fight standing like he did against Penn.
- What's next for Kenny Florian? You gotta love Florian, but he is what he is. He's good enough to be a top 5 guy in the Lightweight division, but he's not good enough to be a champion. Just like Jon Fitch. Sorry it's just hard for me to write about MMA without taking shots at Jon Fitch. Jon Fitch sucks.
- Is Damien Maia the 3rd best guy at 185? 4th? 5th? I'm not sure, but I'd like to see him fight a contender soon
- Does BJ Penn stay at Lightweight, or move up to 170? Penn looked disinterested, and shocked last night. Almost like he couldn't believe what was happening.
He's still better than 80% of the Lightweight division and if Maynard beats Edgar, I believe Penn would beat him. But he just doesn't seem that into it. I expected a retro BJ Penn beat down and he didn't even really seem to try.
- Did The UFC invent Randy Couture's three fight win-streak? During this streak he's beaten Brandon Vera (who was robbed), Mark Coleman (who can't move) and James Toney (who trained by eating Cinnabun all day) if Couture gets a contender or title shot based on this, I will scream.
Anyway let me wrap this up, I'll be back this week with my Official Joe Silva Bald Spot cap on to give my take on who the Winners and Losers should fight next.