Saturday's UFC 118 continues the company's run of big summer cards.. It features a rematch for the lightweight championship between Frankie Edgar and BJ Penn, the highly anticipated "MMA vs. boxing" showdown between Randy Couture and James Toney and a lightweight title eliminator between Gray Maynard and Kenny Florian.
Here are what your fearless prognosticators at MMAForReal.com see happening come Saturday night at TD Garden in Boston.
Lightweight Championship: Frankie Edgar vs. BJ Penn
Kelvin Hunt - I still think Penn won the first fight and this one will be no different other than Penn probably not allowing Edgar to use quite as much movement as the first time. I also think Penn will be a bit more aggressive while being in better shape than he was in the first match up. Edgar fought the best fight he could fight and still lost IMO...I think Penn finishes Edgar this go around and makes a statement. Penn via RNC round 3.
Charles Walker - I will probably be on my own on this but I see this fight going very much similar to the first except this time Edgar winning more convincingly. Here's why. BJ is going to be looking to erase the Abu Dhabi affair and show why he's the best lightweight in the world. In doing so, I think we're going to see an over aggressive BJ Penn, which will work right into an Edgar gameplan carbon copied from his first foray with BJ. His footwork is good enough to where BJ will struggle to get the type of range and timing he probably wants and Edgar's head movement for the most part is pretty good. I can also see the over aggression of BJ leading to Edgar scoring takedowns and possibly frustrating the former champ. I think all in all it comes down to who will stick by their gameplan and who will make a mistake. For the most part, Edgar stuck to his perfectly in their first fight and I think he will again Saturday. Therefore, I predict Frankie Edgar to retain via unanimous decision.
Rich Wyatt - Throughout 2010, MMA fans have been consistently reminded that upsets will frequently occur in this sport. I'm a bottom line person, though, and although I respect Edgar's skills, I just think that Penn will reclaim the world championship on Saturday. Penn by unanimous decision.
Anthony Pace - I think Penn won the last fight. Yep, I just rewatched it. He definitely won. And I think he knows that, he has known that for the past four months. Penn gives us a vintage "Prodigy" performance and takes this one out of the judges' hands. BJ Penn by Sub, round 2
Randy Couture vs. James Toney
Kelvin Hunt - Do I really have to type this? If Couture stands he goes to sleep. If Toney can't stop the takedown he gets subbed or TKO from strikes on the ground. I'll go with the Couture via RNC in Rd. 2
Charles Walker - Should this really need a breakdown? I have a sneaky suspicion though, that Randy is going to stand with Toney longer than he should as he has stated he plans on taking Toney down but a lotta times when fighters say that they do the exact opposite to confuse their opponents. However, Randy's smart enough not to put himself into a firefight with a pro boxer and very good one at that. Therefore, I think that Toney will wait on Randy hoping to land a counter or catch him while he's closing the distance but Randy'll set something up with a leg kick which will pretty much leave Toney helpless, Randy'll clinch, trip, ground and pound, Toney tries to cover up, Randy sinks in a rear-naked and we're out. Randy Couture via submission in Round 1, I think we should have to guess the exact time this fight ends.
Rich Wyatt - In 33 amateur bouts and 80 pro bouts, James Toney has not only avoided being stopped. He has proven nearly impossible to knock down. My prediction is that this fact will do him no good, however, when the nearly 50-year-old Couture lays hands on him this weekend. I see Couture securing the takedown and sinking in a submission shortly thereafter. At the end of the day, the first ballot boxing Hall of Famer that can still go the distance with virtually anybody in that sport will be fortunate to last 3 minutes in this fight. Randy Couture by submission in the first round.
Anthony Pace - Sure, Toney can knock out Couture. I wouldn't give him more than an already generous 20% chance to do so, but my jaw wouldn't hit the floor if it happened. That's just how great a boxer Toney once was. He's not a KO artist, never has been; but a fighter of his caliber doesn't forget how to throw pinpoint combos. He has a chance when Randy comes in for his Greco trips and throws, but if he doesn't capitalize in that split second, it's over. Randy Couture by TKO, round 1.
Demian Maia vs. Mario Miranda
Kelvin Hunt -Should be a good one. I don't know much about Miranda but it appears that he's pretty well rounded and he has a victory over Rick Story. If it goes to the ground, few can survive Maia's game there. I have to imagine he'll get the fight there at some point and put Miranda away via Triangle in Rd. 2.
Charles Walker - Mario Miranda's tough and definitely a prospect, so I'm glad he's getting some exposure on a PPV main card. With that said, he's going against a guy that was in a title fight not too long ago and he was in that fight for a good reason. Demian Maia despite his setback against Nate Marquardt and passable but outclassed fight with Anderson Silva is still one of the best middleweights in the world. My problem though is if Maia falls in love with his boxing he could get blasted out of Boston. I think Miranda will try to keep it standing and once Maia realizes that getting into a brawl isn't his best bet, they'll grapple, Miranda will do serviceable on the mat but with a guy like Maia, the smallest of mistakes are fight ending and that's exactly what will happen. Demain Maia via 2nd round submission.
Rich Wyatt - I like the matchmaking job done by Joe Silva in the Demian Maia-Mario Miranda fight. Maia has continued to work tirelessly to improve his standup skills. He'll need at least enough to survive until he can secure a takedown against Miranda, a formidable striker. This one should be yet another interesting matchup of styles. Demian Maia by submission in the second round.
Anthony Pace - Miranda isn't a slouch and could win if Maia wants to test his kickboxing. But Maia's a smarter fellow following the Marquardt fight. Demian Maia via Sub, round 3
Kenny Florian vs. Gray Maynard
Kelvin Hunt - Interesting fight here. The fight really depends on what gameplan Maynard has. If he tries to stand and bang the entire time without getting takedowns...Florian outpoints him all night. IF he uses his takedowns to take Florian down(and he can do it whenever he wants probably)....I can see Maynard taking the decision similar to the way he beat Edgar. Florian has really tightened his game up though and training with GSP should help with his takedown defense....but will it be enough? I'm go with Maynard via UD.
Charles Walker - This fight will be boring. As much as I don't want it to be, these two are actually nightmare match ups for each other. However, the good thing is one fighter is very smart, the other not as much. Florian knows what and how to beat Maynard, I'm not sure that Maynard (even working at Xtreme Couture) knows exactly how to beat Florian. I see Kenny basically making Maynard come after him and using his strikes to keep a far enough distance where Maynard won't be able to unload or get in range to shoot. Recycle repeat this for most of the fight and we'll get Maynard bullrushing Florian to close out the fight and finding success too little, too late. Florian via unanimous decision.
Rich Wyatt - Lost in all the hoopla over middle aged fighters Couture and Toney is the outstanding matchup of Florian and Maynard. This fight has significant implications for the 155 pound weight class. Will Maynard be able to deal with Florian's diverse striking skills? Will Florian be able to stop Maynard should "The Bully" want to take the fight to the canvass and keep it there? This should be a really good fight between two high level lightweights. Gray Maynard over Ken Florian by unanimous decision.
Anthony Pace - It'd be interesting if Florian comes out and shoots on Maynard. He's just the better all-around fighter. Kenny Florian via Decision
Marcus Davis vs. Nate Diaz
Kelvin Hunt - Davis is the much stronger guy here, but he'll be giving away a ton of reach to Diaz who appears to be a little stronger at 170. I think Davis is on the way down in his career, but he's tough as nails. I'm go with Diaz via decision.
Charles Walker - This is an interesting match up, but one that I think leans more towards one guy than the other. Nate Diaz looked like a killer at welterweight in his last fight against Rory Markham. Davis has been up and down lately and this is definitely going to be a rough style match up for him as Diaz's rich coupled with the fact that he uses his long arms to strike will be too much for Davis who will give a spirited effort but ultimately get beaten. Nate Diaz via unanimous decision.
Rich Wyatt - Both Nate Diaz and Marcus Davis could use a win this weekend. The former TUF season 5 winner looked sharp in his welterweight debut. This matchup, in my opinion, has the potential to win the award for "Fight of the Night." Nate Diaz by submission in the third round.
Anthony Pace - Diaz is at a clear advantage if this one hits the floor, but his reach can also win him a boxing match. I think it'll be more of a boxing match than the legend Toney's, which is sweet irony. Diaz via Decision
Joe Lauzon vs. Gabe Ruediger
Kelvin Hunt -Ruediger has been on a tear lately against subpar competition. Lauzon should finally be healthy from the surgery on his knee. Lauzon uses his wrestling to take Ruediger down for the UD win.
Charles Walker -Stylistically, Joe Lauzon should have no problems winning this fight wherever it goes. Joe Lauzon via GnP in round 2.
Rich Wyatt - Really? Gabe Ruediger is going to win this? Have fun, Mr. Lauzon. Joe Lauzon by submission in the third round.
Andre Winner vs. Nik Lentz
Kelvin Hunt - Lentz is the better wrestler and Winner probably has the edge standing. I think Winner can keep it standing enough to take this one via TKO in Rd. 2
Charles Walker - Got to go with Andre on this one, it will be close though. Winner via decision.
Rich Wyatt - I think that Nik's wrestling skills will help him avoid being finished, but I see Winner scoring with enough shots to get a competitive points win. It would not surprise me, however, if Lentz controlled Andre on the ground enough to win by decision either. Andre Winner over Nik Lentz by unanimous decision.
Dan Miller vs. John Salter
Charles Walker - Dan Miller via decision
Rich Wyatt - Dan Miller over John Salter by unanimous decision.
Nick Osipczak vs. Greg Soto
Charles Walker - Nick Osipczak via TKO in round 2
Rich Wyatt - Nick Osipczak over Greg Soto by TKO in the third round.
Mike Pierce vs. Amilcar Alves
Charles Walker - Mike Pierce via TKO in round 3
Rich Wyatt - Mike Pierce over Amilcar Alves by unanimous decision.