UFC 118: Shippin’ Up To Boston
After an amazing UFC 117 event out in Oakland, Dana White & Co. return to his old stomping grounds in Beantown for UFC 118 Penn vs. Edgar 2 (a.k.a. The One Where Couture vs. Toney Have Become More Prominently Displayed in All of The Advertising But Are Not the Actual Headliner). Now, as a Boston University alum, it saddens me that I can not attend UFC’s inaugural event at the TD Garden (if you are attending, try getting into The Black Rose at Faneuil Hall for a pre-fight drink seeing as Dana White himself was a bouncer there back in the day). With that in mind: grab a pint, hit on young girls from one of the many colleges in the Boston area, and let’s get to the “cahd.”
Amilcar Alves over Mike Pierce
Nick Osipczak over Greg Soto
Dan Miller over John Salter
Nik Lentz over Andre Winner
Joe Lauzon over Gabe Ruediger
Nate Diaz vs. Marcus Davis
Diaz makes his official welterweight debut since his last fight against Rory Markham at UFC 111 was adjusted to a catchweight (Markham failed to make 170). No matter: Diaz pounded him out in the second round anyway. Actually that’s an inaccurate statement: Diaz’s last fight was ACTUALLY a brawl inside the cage of this other fight company called “Strikeforce” but we won’t get into that. The 25 year old Cesar Gracie standout will take on 37 year old Marcus “The Irish Hand Grenade” Davis. Davis most recently went up to Montreal for UFC 113 and battered Jonathan Goulet in front of his hometown. His two previous fights, however, were back to back losses: a split decision to Dan Hardy at UFC 99 and then suffering his first KO loss from an unholy knee to the face courtesy of Ben Saunders at UFC 106. Davis will look to slug it out but I think Diaz takes this to the ground and finishes him off.
Jay Pick: Diaz via submission, R2
Kenny Florian vs. Gray Maynard
(Ed. Note: I will try to ignore the fact that KenFlo is a BC grad when evaluating this fight)
#1 contender bout as the #2 on the main card? I’ll take it. Boston’s golden boy Kenny Florian is on a 2 fight winning streak since losing to then-champ BJ Penn at UFC 101, earning back-to-back submission victories over Clay Guida & Takanori Gomi. Across the cage is Gray Maynard, the Michigan State wrestling standout who’s 9-0 with one no contest, having Jon Fitch’d Nate Diaz, Roger Huerta, and current champ Frankie Edgar. Obviously, Florian will have a nice hometown advantage in the fight, but the mixture of styles should make this very interesting. Maynard has smothered everyone he’s faced with his wrestling so if the fight hits the mat, Florian will have a tough time utilizing his superior jiu jitsu skills without softening him up first. His best bet is to keep it standing like he did against Gomi, who he frustrated to no end with a solid jab before choking him out to finish. All things considered, I see this one going the distance, but Florian pulling out a tough win. If he puts on a BC hockey jersey or hat, however, I am going to the bathroom during his post-fight speech (okay, I was objective until the very end. Sue me).
Jay Pick: Florian via decision
Demian Maia vs. Mario Miranda
After being on the losing end of one of the most bizarre and disappointing title fights in the history of the sport, Demian Maia looks to climb back up the Middleweight ladder against fellow Brazilian Mario Miranda: 12-1 with the lone loss being his UFC debut against Gerald Harris at Fight Night: Florian vs. Gomi. He rebounded by finishing off David Loiseau via strikes at UFC 115. My initial gut is to go with Maia since his BJJ some of the best in the business, but his striking, while improving, is not particularly strong. Miranda, at 6’4”, has more power and reach and I think would be smart enough to keep it standing. I’m going for the slight upset.
Jay Pick: Miranda via TKO, R2
Freakshow! Boxing vs. MMA! Cats & dogs living together, MASS HYSTERIA (please tell me someone gets that last quote). The evening’s HW fight is something “Lights Out” James Toney, the current IBA HW champ, has harassed his way into by (more or less) stalking Dana White in an effort to get a pay day. Fine, the UFC said: Give him Captain America. Couture is 2-2 since returning to the UFC in ’08, having lost to Brock Lesnar & Big Nog then outpointing Brandon “The Lie” Vera and most recently choking out Mark Coleman.
Oddsmakers have Couture, the seasoned MMA vet, at around -700 with Toney at around +450. I, like many, see this going to Couture via submission in R1 since his wrestling, clinch, experience, and comprehension of the English language are light years ahead of Toney’s, but I will say this: if ever was someone with a puncher’s chance to win, it is Toney so if you want to go for an underdog on this PPV, throw down on The Unintelligible One since Couture’s line won’t win you a lot of money anyway.
Jay Pick: Couture via submission, R1
BJ Penn vs. Frankie Edgar – UFC lightweight Championship
Now that (hopefully) James Toney has sufficiently made up a lot of excuses that require a translator for why he lost, we can move on to the main event. The betting lines, with Penn now the challenger, are still showing him heavily favored at -350 (Edgar is hovering around +265 depending on your site). These are deceptive, in my humble opinion, seeing as Edgar is 12-1 and still looked like he could go 5 more rounds after his first encounter with Penn. He got in, took his shots, got out, kept Penn at bay with leg kicks, and even took him down, which had not been done in over 5 years by a lightweight. Having said that, BJ is notorious for returning from defeat hungry and destructive (dominant back-to-back wins post-GSP II against KenFlo & Diego Sanchez, 3 straight stoppages against Jens Pulver, Joe Stevenson, & Sean Sherk after the GSP/Hughes losses in ’06). It’s a tough fight to call and I suspect Edgar will not deviate from the original plan, but I have to believe Penn will do what it takes to get the win.
Jay Pick: Penn via decision
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