Gambling Spotlight: UFC 118

Running past the deadline, so I'll eschew my normally hilarious ledes and just get to the meat and taters.

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All photos by MMA Junkie.

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Frankie Edgar

#1 Lightweight
UFC LW Champ


vs.

B.J. Penn

#2 Lightweight
Former UFC LW Champ

28 Age 31
5'6" Height 5'9"
72" Reach 70"
12 - 1 - 0 Record 15 - 6 - 1
2 / 3 TKO / SUB 6 / 6
Renzo Gracie Combat Team Camp B.J. Penn's MMA
W - Penn (UD)
W - Veach (SUB)
W - Sherk (UD)

Last 3
L - Edgar (UD)
W - Sanchez (TKO)
W - Florian (SUB)

BestFightOdds.com

Ignore the outcome of the last fight. It's irrelevant whether you feel Penn or Edgar was the rightful winner at UFC 112. The fight did, however, provide us with 25 minutes of action to dissesct.

This is how I saw the fight: Penn established the jab with his reach advantage and countered very well throughout the fight. Frankie's gameplan consisted of working in and out and avoiding a firefight, a plan he executed very well. Edgar showcased his superior cardio, beginning in round four and extending into the final frame. Neither fighter made any commitment to fighting on the floor.

What changes? Well, they won't be fighting outdoors, for starters. Though I've found criticisms of Penn's cardio to be overstated, it's fair to say Edgar holds an advantage and fighting outside in the Abu Dhabi heat exacerbates the gap.

People have made note about Penn's demeanor in the bout, but I didn't see much difference. B.J.'s never been a fighter to overcommit to a finish. He fights his fight, and if he finds an opening to finish, he pounces.

As for Frankie, what can he do to change his strategy in the rematch? By all objective measures, Frankie won a very close decision in the first fight. I don't think he can rely on utilizing the same strategy to beat Penna again. But what exactly can he do? He doesn't have the power to overcome Penn's defense and chin, nor will he catch the Hawaiian in a submission.

This all goes back to why I favored Penn heavily in the first fight. Penn can finish Edgar, but not vice versa (any meaningful amount of times anyway). So, Edgar's almost forced to fight the same fight that he did in Abu Dhabi. He's proven that he can be effective with it, so it wouldn't totally shock me to see him retain the title.

And hey, maybe Edgar's style is Penn's kryptonite. I don't think it is, but Edgar is one hell of a fighter. Unfortunately, the last fight was Edgar's best against Penn's not-so-best, and I don't see much room for improvement. I like Penn as much as I did in April and recommend a two unit play.

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Kenny-florian-gray-maynard_medium

Kenny Florian

#4 Lightweight


vs.

Gray Maynard

#7 Lightweight

34 Age 31
5'10" Height 5'8"
72" Reach 70"
14 - 4 - 0
Record 9 - 0 - 0, 1 NC
3 / 10
TKO / SUB 2 / 0
Florian Martial Arts/ TriStar
Camp Xtreme Couture
W - Gomi (SUB)
W - Guida (SUB)
L - Penn (SUB)

Last 3
W - Diaz (SD)
W - Huerta (SD)
W - Miller (UD)

BestFightOdds.com

When Zuffa first announced this fight, I really liked Gray Maynard. Wrestling is a huge equalizer in MMA, and I thought Maynard's wrestling could overcome Florian's more talented skill set.

After watching tape, however, I've reversed course. I still think Maynard can win the fight if he commits to wrestling, but 1) I think Florian will be better at avoiding takedowns that I originally thought, 2) Kenny won't be helpless on his back, and 3) Maynard's committed to boxing in his last three contests.

Most importantly, Kenny's just a more dynamic and cerebral fighter than Maynard. He'll have many more tools and angles at his disposal, while Maynard will set back and wrestlebox as usual.

I think people are still sleeping on Florian (and I was apart of that group for awhile). Why? TUF stigma? His exposure as a TV personality? I don't know, but I like Florian for a solid unit play.

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Randy Couture

#22 Heavyweight
Former UFC LHW and HW Champ

vs.

James Toney

47 Age 42
6'1" Height 5'10"
75" Reach 72"
18 - 10 - 0
Record 0 - 0 - 0
7 / 3
TKO / SUB 0 / 0
Xtreme Couture
Camp Parts Unknown
W - Coleman (SUB)
W - Vera (UD)
L - Nogueira (UD)

Last 3
N/A

BestFightOdds.com

Let's call a spade a spade. Toney's looking for the paycheck he can't get in boxing. Dana's looking for eyeballs and to put boxing in its place. This isn't a work. The fix isn't in. But Toney isn't being put in a position (by White or himself) to win. He weighed in at close to 240 pounds, he's on the wrong side of 40, he's had a long career of minor head trauma, and he's stepping into a sport with no prior experience. I'd love to see Toney knock Couture out of the cage, but this fight will be impressive in its brutality and viciousness. I'm bridge jumping Couture a bit here. I don't know why there isn't a larger spread.

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