The FX card for UFC on FOX 8 is a fairly stacked affair that should wet the combat appetite in more ways than one. After all, ladies and germs alike will be involved in this weekend's punch in the face contest.
Edwards is 4-3 in his last seven in the UFC; a commendable record when you consider that his career started in 1997, and he's had over 60 professional fights since then. Edwards has always been a quality LW. When the baddest lightweights on the planet were getting together for Pride's Bushido series, he was never a stepping stone.
While 'stepping stone' may describe him now, he's still a handful for any fighter. He's coming off a tough loss to SF product, Isaac Vallie-Flagg. Cruickshank would have been back in action earlier if it weren't for the nose surgery John Makdessi forced upon him.
What both men can do: Edwards' game hasn't evolved much over the years, but part of that stems from the fact that he was ahead of the curve long before the term "well rounded" became hollow, and meaningless. He's got crisp punches, leg kicks, and has no problem grappling.
Cruickshank, though not stellar when he debuted on TUF, is still an entertaining fighter to watch. You can expect the usual: wheel kicks, spinning heel kick, flying knees, and sidekicks. Like I said...the usual. I suppose it's an achievement when fans remember your victim's KO face (in this case, the postmortem salute) more than your actual victory, so that tells you a lot about Daron's style. He's also posses a brutal body kick attack.
What both men can't do: Cruickshank's problem is that is offense doesn't match his defense. Like a lot of fighters who revel in that karate/taekwondo style, their blessing can be their curse; they get so used to maintaining distance that they fail to realize how quickly an opponent can close that distance with the right assault, which leads to what's known as "backing straight up" disorder (or Bisping Syndrome, if you like).
Edwards, meanwhile, can be too mechanical. While he does a lot of things right, he also has trouble pulling ahead in fights. Like Tyson Griffin, he never seems able to really capitalize on mistakes, preferring to nickel and dime his way to victory. I don't mean he's boring (far from it). I mean he's not the finisher his style tends to entail.
X-Factor: I'm going with Cruickshank and it's because of this - Edwards' chin has shown signs of wear. He was rocked on multiple occasions against Tony Ferguson, and it's telling that Sam Stout (never known for his power, and in fact mocked for the irony of his nickname) knocked him out in brutal fashion. Yes, it was the perfect punch, but 60+ professional fights takes its toll on the human body, and for all of his dynamism, Yves is still human.
Prediction: Daron Cruickshank by KO (kicks to the body).
Herman is still the guy Tito didn't pick to many. He's had a modest career, but feels both worse than it is, and better than it actually is. The reason for that is because he's maddeningly inconsistent. Nonetheless, he's a durable guy with average striking, and versatile grappling. Smith has the versatile grappling part down. It's the striking part he needs to work on.
What both men can do: I don't understand Herman, to be perfectly honest. By that I mean, how the hell am I supposed to grade his grappling when he looks so brilliant in submission victory over Kyle Noke (a guy with decent submission skills), and so pedestrian in submission defeat to Jason MacDonald (who is Canadian Noke)?
That's Herman's strength I guess. Trevor Smith is equally capable on the ground. He's very quick at positioning himself in guard and working from there. He's good at posing; angling for submissions while planning the next attempt when one fails. It's why 9 of his 10 wins are by submssion. Unfortunately...
What both men can't do: The striking is pedestrian at best. His punches are slow, and his kicks are slow, and it's frankly amazing how a fighter so fluid on the ground is so slow on the feet. Herman rarely fights an optimal fight, so I expect some spirited exchanges on the ground when Herman beats him up on the feet, and transitions for a takedown, but I think Herman is skilled enough to not let that happen, inconsistencies be damned.
X-Factor: Kim Winslow.
Prediction: Ed Herman by Decision.
Kedzie is similar to Yves Edwards; a well rounded veteran who has just enough skill to threaten the elite, no matter how brief. She's coming off a tough loss to Miesha Tate. But a great performance. It's still somewhat shocking to think Tate managed to eat those roundhouse kicks like cupcakes. For Germaine de Randamie, it's all about validating the hype once foisted upon the Dutch kicboxer when she was thought to be the only one capable of taking Cris 'Cyborg' Santos out on the feet.
What both women can do: Kedzie does it all. She throws good combinations, kicks, and is more than willing to take it to the ground. She also does a good job of throwing straight down the middle. Again refer back to my Edwards comment.
Germaine is a different breed. Less a veteran of versatility, de Randamie is a prospect of penmanship. Her signature style is her kickboxing. She' as technically sound as it gets; strong jab, and a crisp, straight right that while not blistering, is timed proficiently, and accurately.
What both women can't do: Unfortunately Germaine is as good as you'd expect a novice female kickboxer from Europe to be on the ground - incapable. While Kedzie can be reckless, she'll be wise to take it to the ground, which she's more than capable of doing. I don't expect this fight to be one for the ages, but I don't expect it to be a dud either.
X-Factor: de Randmaie's development. It's hard to predict progress, but she's currently training out of AKA. This will pay big dividends if she manages to soak what she's learned. It's not enough to make me pick her, but it is enough to make me wonder.
Prediction: Julie Kedzie by Decision.