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UFC 73 Predictions - Frank Edgar vs. Mark Bocek

Each day this week I'll be covering the smart bet on what I consider to be the most important fights on Saturday's UFC 73: STACKED event.  For the first installment, I've chosen Frankie Edgar vs. Mark Bocek.  I know this is a dark match that will only make it to air with time permitting, but it's too enticing a match-up to ignore.

Courtesy Desert Dog - a man whose picks I respect enormously - here is the conventional wisdom going into this fight:

Frankie Edgar (-240) vs. Mark Bocek (+190)
Edgar made an impressive UFC debut against Tyson Griffin winning a hard fought decision. He's also showed that he can handle submission specialists as well in his fights against Jason miller and Deividas. His game is very well round and athletic, but he hasn't shown a consistent ability to finish his opponents.

Bocek is a young fighter making his first showing in the UFC. He's won his first four fights mostly in the KOTC show and he's got an impressive submission game.

Edgar should be able to defend the submission and take this fight his solid aggression and decent standup....even if he is only 5'6". No value for a bet here. Edgar via decision.

I have to disagree.  Wholeheartedly.

For a lack of a better description, Mark Bocek is the new Frankie Edgar.  That is, a lightweight fighter no one really knows set to take on undefeated competition in his UFC debut.  Frankie Edgar, you'll recall, was forced to take on lightweight powerhouse Tyson Griffin in his debut at UFC 67.

Therein lies the problem with the odds as they currently stand: no one really knows a whole helluva lot about Bocek.  But that's not all: people are making a little bit more out of Edgar's performance against Griffin than they should be.  For sure it was an incredible win, but Edgar's Achilles heel was revealed in that fight (for those that wanted to see it): submission defense.  I know a guy personally who submitted Edgar in jiu-jitsu competition without a terrible amount of resistance.  Jiu-jitsu is not MMA, but even though Griffin lost to Edgar, the kneebar he had locked in at the end of the third round was DEEP and would've finished most fighters.

So what does this have to do with Bocek?  Bocek's jiu-jitsu is incredible.  Seriously, seriously incredible.  His wrestling is not as good as Edgar's, but it's good enough.  The difference maker here is how good Bocek will be once the fight hits the floor.  Edgar will be forced to keep this fight standing or face being submitted.  Period.  He cannot hang with Bocek on the ground.  Worse, the traditional sprawl n' brawl strategy can't last for three rounds against Bocek.  Unless Edgar gets the early KO, he'll be submitted either in the first or second.

Bocek, via submission - round 2.