UFC 118 in Review: Frankie Edgar Is for Real, Gray Maynard Is Coming for Him

Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Jonathan Snowden is saying that Frankie Edgar's consecutive five round wins over B.J. Penn prove that B.J. Penn isn't all that and never was. 

That's a typical MMA fan approach -- throwing the baby out with the bathwater. The baby here is Frankie Edgar's phenomenal win over B.J. Penn. I'm not going to take anything away from B.J. He's still got good punching, strong take down defense and incredible jiu jitsu. He even showed some of that against Edgar.

But what matters is what Edgar showed:

  • Great gameplanning and the discipline to stick to it
    Edgar realized that he had a serious speed advantage over B.J. and he used it brilliantly, coming in and out with a variety of punches and kicks to a variety of targets. 
  • A complete game
    Not only did Edgar dominate the kickboxing range, he used his wrestling well to get take downs early and often and not only made no mistakes on the ground, managing to escape some very dangerous positions with mad scrambling skills.
  • Confidence
    Edgar and the judges at UFC 112 may have been the only ones who thought he won the first fight, but he came into 118 confident and loose. He used that in-cage comfort to dominate B.J. from bell to bell, immediately shooting in for a take down when Penn came out chasing him around the cage. 
As Dave Walsh wrote, it's not really that B.J. Penn was overrated or underperforming as much as it is that Frankie Edgar truly is "The Answer" for Penn:

Every fighter has styles that they simply cannot figure out. ...

Frankie Edgar knew how to hurt BJ Penn, and for once, a fighter who was smaller but was able to use that lack of size to his advantage in the way of speed. Edgar is a rare occasion where he is small for the weight class, but his sheer strength helps even things out, as his takedowns are lightning fast and strong. The "small" Edgar was even able to pick Penn up and slam him to the canvas. Edgar's speed was able to help him set up the takedowns and keep him away from Penn's educated hands, his wrestling and strength was able to take BJ down and keep him from gaining advantageous positions. To put it in simple terms, Frankie Edgar has the stylistic answer to the riddle of BJ Penn.

I don't know that he'll have a very long title run though. Because the man who just utterly dominated two time title challenger Kenny Florian and won the #1 contender's fight has just the style to stymie Edgar: Gray Maynard.

In their first fight, Maynard showed why he is called "The Bully." He outwrestled Edgar, putting him down and down hard over and over again and then he started hurting him. By the end of the fight, Edgar seemed to be in the wrong weight division. 

Enjoy your well-earned title reign Frankie, Gray Maynard is coming for that belt.

 

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