Verbal Submission: UFC 118 Preview

Tomorrow, the UFC will have its first-ever event in the state of Massachusetts with UFC 118 featuring the main event of lightweight champion Frankie Edgar defending his title against former champ and top-five pound for pound fighter in the world, B.J. Penn.

The card also features heavyweight boxing champion James Toney against UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture.  Ken Florian will also face Greg Maynard in a number one contender fight in the lightweight division as well.  Let’s get to the fights:

Edgar vs. Penn

Before I start, I will tell you that there is some bias in my analysis because Penn is my favorite fighter in mixed martial arts.

These two men fought in UFC 112 with Edgar winning a decision and gaining the championship.  However, the fight was close and the decision could have gone either way.

Penn is still considered the top lightweight in the world and that acknowledgement deserves warrant.  He has beaten everyone that has come in front of him in that weight division and whoever has defeated him at lightweight in the past like Jens Pulver, Penn has come back stronger and gotten revenge in the rematch.

However, Edgar is the champion and shouldn’t be overlooked. 

In the first matchup between the two men, Edgar was able to use his elusiveness and keep the fight standing, therefore dictating the pace of the actions.  Penn has excellent boxing skills but was unable to match the hand speed and punching volume of Edgar.

For Penn to win the rematch, he must show diversity in his attack, particularly in attempts to take the fight to the ground.  Penn may be the top ground fighter in all of mixed martial arts with his jiu jitsu and overall grappling skills.  Edgar has some nice wrestling techniques but it doesn’t surpass Penn’s skills.

For Edgar to win the fight, he must continue his game plan from the last fight.  Penn is bigger and stronger than him physically, so standing directly in front of him would not be wise for Edgar.  The champ must stay elusive and improve his countering skills because Penn will definitely be more aggressive in this matchup.

In the end, Penn is the better overall fighter in every aspect of this matchup and that’s who you should bet on the majority of time in MMA.  Edgar is an excellent competitor and did earn the victory in the first contest.  However, if an upset happens in the first fight, the superior competitor usually wins the rematch for a reason.

Penn by TKO in the fourth round

Toney vs. Couture

Mixed emotions about this fight.  I dislike these type of mismatches because it plays into the whole “freak show” perspective that some people against MMA has towards the sport. 

For years, traditional fans of the sport could always say that the whole “MMA fighter against someone from another sport” spectacle only happens in Japan or a small organization desperate for attention.  The UFC is not based in Japan and is the largest fight promotion in the world, so why is this fight happening.  Why would the UFC stoop so low to allow James Toney, who I’m a big fan of as a boxing fan, snooker them into a matchup with arguably the biggest name in the promotion and sport?

If the boxer was Floyd Mayweather, Shane Mosley, Manny Pacquiao, Mike Tyson in his prime or even one of the Klitshko brothers, I would be more interested than an over-the-hill fighter like Toney.  I wouldn’t be happy about watching it but at least a little more interested.

Toney talks a good game but Couture should have this fight easily.  Yes Toney is a boxer but its not like he has been an elite knockout artist.  Sure he has power in his hands but once the fight gets to the ground, and at some point it will, Couture should easily submit him or at least get a TKO.

Couture by submission in round two

Florian vs. Maynard

This is the most interesting fight on the card because this comes down to a contest between a wrestler and a striker. 

If Florian can defend Maynard’s takedowns and use his superior standup skills, especially with elbows and kicks, I can see Florian winning the fight relatively easily in a decision.

Maynard can definitely earn a win in the fight by using his takedowns and taking advantage of being in an aggressive position on the top from the ground.

However, Florian’s takedown defense will reign supreme and the Massachusetts native will earn a third lightweight title shot in front of his home fans.

Those are my thoughts, what about yours?