After eschewing the freakshow for the better part of a decade, Dana White has jumped in with both feet. It’s unfortunate, because that gimmick fight is the worst of an otherwise solid card.
The Main Event: Lightweight Title Bout
Frankie “The Answer” Edgar (12-1) vs. BJ “The Prodigy” Penn (15-6-1)
The Breakdown: This fight seems a little unfair to me. Penn dropped a decision to Edgar in Abu Dhabi that seems to become more and more controversial the farther we get from it. I agree: it was a close fight, but to my eyes, Edgar won it, if only barely. Were it not for the judging debacle that was Machida/Shogun 1, this fight wouldn’t be happening. Dana White should have made BJ win a couple before giving him another crack at the belt. Not that BJ is an unworthy champion, but let Frankie be the champion for a little while! Not only that, but Frankie could fight some of the guys Penn has already stomped on, which makes for a more interesting lightweight landscape. As for this contest: it’s BJ’s fight to lose. Penn has always reminded me of Shaquille O’Neal: a mutant who relies on his perfect genetic makeup in the place of solid training. When motivated, there is no one more dominant, amazing and terrifying than BJ Penn. There’s also no one cockier, lazier or more complacent.
My Pick: Penn is on a mission. He is going to dominate Edgar in horrific fashion to prove that the first decision was a fluke. Expect power counterpunching followed by rubber-limbed submission attempts and razor elbows and shins. BJ will toy with Edgar, cut him a little, then choke him out. All just to prove that he can.
Gore Factor: Heavy. An angry BJ is a bloodthirsty BJ.
Randy “The Natural” Couture (18-10) vs. James “Lights Out” Toney (0-0-0, 0 NC)
The Breakdown: Here we come to the freakshow portion of the evening. A washed up and brain-damaged boxer attempts to prove the superiority of his sport against a still relevant wrestler. Toney is going to throw some punches before Couture uses the guy as a ragdoll. By round 2, Toney will be completely gassed as Couture works his relentless clinch game.
My Pick: Couture by TKO in round 2. MMA wins. If we have to have a sideshow, can we get a relevant boxer, please?
Gore Factor: Light.
Demian Maia (12-2) vs. Mario Miranda (12-1)
The Breakdown: This is Maia’s first fight since his humiliating loss to Anderson Silva in Abu Dhabi. It’s a weird match, since Miranda’s strength, Muay Thai, is the same as Silva’s. Not that Miranda is in Silva’s league. When it comes to striking, there’s Silva and there’s God, and God’s not fighting until UFC 121. Maia showed admirable toughness against the Spider, so he should be able to weather the storm, clinching with Miranda and taking him to the ground. At that point, it’s just a matter of time before Maia turns Miranda into a piece of modern art that screams.
My Pick: Maia by submission of the night in round 3. He’ll wait until Miranda is good and tired.
Gore Factor: Light. Maia is known for his belief that Jiu-Jitsu is the “gentle art.” He likes fights in which no one gets hurt.
Kenny “Zoolander” Florian (14-4) vs. Gray “The Bully” Maynard (9-0, 1 NC)
The Breakdown: Gray Maynard has an interesting pedigree. He’s responsible for the one loss on Frankie Edgar’s record and he was on BJ Penn’s team on season 5 of The Ultimate Fighter. If Maynard gets past Florian, he’ll have to fight Edgar or Penn for the belt. That’s a pretty big if. Gray Maynard might be the best wrestler at 155, but getting a Jiu-Jitsu fighter as skilled as Florian on the mat isn’t necessarily the best idea. Not that Maynard wants to keep this standing: Florian’s technical Muay Thai will take the other man apart. If Maynard wants to wipe the Blue Steel off Zoolander’s face, the fight has to hit the ground and Maynard needs to control Florian for three solid rounds and a decision. Meanwhile, Kenny will be working those knife-elbows from the bottom and looking for every hole in Gray’s guard
My Pick: Florian by submission in round 2. The upside is both guys should be taking home a healthy fight of the night bonus.
Gore Factor: High. Florian’s elbows are sharp, and he’s going to get to throw a ton of them with Maynard laying on top of him.
Nate Diaz (12-5) vs. Marcus “The Irish Hand Grenade” Davis (17-6)
The Breakdown: Davis, once a solid gatekeeper at 170, hasn’t looked the same since Dan Hardy knocked him out. A lot of his power seems to be gone, and for a boxer like Davis, this is bad news. Now pair that with a guy like Nate Diaz, who likes to throw punches in such volume it’s like he thinks he’ll get a discount. Davis is underrated on the ground, but Diaz is still better there, with a long, wiry frame that was made for submissions. Expect Diaz to mangle Davis and then the English language in that order.
My Pick: These guys should be tough enough to avoid a knockout and skilled enough to prevent a submission. Diaz by decision.
Gore Factor: With all those fists flying, I’d say medium. Davis used to be a bleeder until he got the scar tissue around his eyes removed, so that’s just good news for everyone.
Undercard Highlight: Lightweight Bout
Joe Lauzon (18-5) vs. Gabe Ruediger (17-5)
The Breakdown: Ruediger just been called up to fight in the show, and Lauzon is in need of a tune up fight to get back on the road to lightweight contention. Lauzon’s unorthodox clinch style is tough to prepare for, but he’s found a gamer in Ruediger. As a grappling geek, this is the fight I’m most looking forward to: two BJJ black belts playing limb-chicken.
My Pick: Lauzon by submission in round 2.
Gore Factor: Light. They’ll be way too busy bending stuff to punch anything.
Buy. Not for the freakshow, because let’s be honest, best case scenario it’s just sad. Buy it for the solid card Dana White built around the freakshow. A great rematch, a number one contender slot and tons of quality grappling. One warning: this might be the most homoerotic card I’ve ever seen. Just an FYI.