Mixed martial arts fans are in for a treat on Saturday night, with a fight card on tap for UFC 135: Edgar vs. Maynard III that is as deep as any we've seen this year and, as such, has as much potential for heart-pounding, bone-crushing entertainment as any UFC event in 2011.
First and foremost, we have the main event between Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard. These two nemeses have enough history between them that this bout could be a headliner even without the benefit of waist wear.
Of course, they'll be duking it out for the UFC Lightweight Championship, so the stakes will be that much higher. This isn't the first time they've met to decide a title, though. Edgar and Maynard last met in the Octagon at UFC 125: Resolution on New Year's Day.
Ironically enough, not all was resolved that day, particularly between Edgar and Maynard, who fought to a draw. That allowed Edgar to retain the title but did little to make up for his loss to Maynard at UFC Fight Night: Florian vs. Lauzon back in April of 2008.
As exciting as the latest edition of Edgar vs. Maynard will be, it won't be the only fight with championship implications this weekend. Jose Aldo will also be at the Toyota Center in Houston, but certainly not as a spectator. Rather, he'll be climbing into the Octagon, Featherweight Championship and all, to take on former lightweight contender Kenny Florian.
Aldo has been as dominant as any fighter in his respective division, though this will mark only his second career UFC bout. Florian, meanwhile, will be taking his third, and perhaps final, shot at a title after twice losing championship bouts as a lightweight.
But wait...there's more! The third fight on the main card, between top 10 contenders Chael Sonnen and Brian Stann, could very well determine who gets the next crack at Anderson Silva's seemingly unbreakable hold on the Middleweight Championship.
Sonnen last climbed into the Octagon 14 months ago, when Silva forced him into submission to claim the title belt at UFC 117. Sonnen would've had a shot at an immediate rematch had he not been suspended for elevated levels of testosterone and mixed up in a money laundering scandal.
Sonnen has been rather flippant in his approach toward tomorrow's bout, telling USA Today:
"This is the most unsophisticated and un-well-thought-out thing you need to do in life. Two half-naked men are going to get into a steel cage and fight for the applause of a drunken, rowdy crowd. ... We don't need to plan for this."