The UFC makes its first visit to Beantown this week and the lightweight belt is on the line. Here are FIGHT!’s picks for Saturday night’s bouts with odds courtesy of bodog. We are currently 83-44 with our picks in 2010.
Fans don’t like decisions. They leave few strong impressions on memory, and as a result, we diminish the achievements of guys who win on scorecards. But the fact that Frankie Edgar didn’t finish BJ Penn doesn’t mean that he wasn’t the better fighter that night. And the fact that BJ Penn is one of the greatest fighters in the world doesn’t mean the outcome of a rematch will be any different.
When Edgar challenged Penn for the belt in Abu Dhabi, he was faster, better conditioned, showed crisper boxing, and controlled the Octagon and the flow of the fight. Penn has some very good, very innovative trainers, but no matter what he’s done the last few months, Frankie is still going to be faster. And as a result, his boxing is still going to be crisper. Penn caught him with some nice counters – but they were counters, which means that Frankie was getting off first, forcing Penn to fight on his heels and react. Because of the fact that Edgar is a small 155er and doesn’t cut much weight before fights, he has a much larger gas tank – despite the oppressive heat of the United Arab Emirates, he was as light on his feet in the 25th minute of the fight as he was in the first. No matter what Penn has done in the last few months, Edgar will still have a conditioning advantage.
BJ Penn is the greatest lightweight to date in mixed martial arts and he doesn’t have many weaknesses. Frankie Edgar just happens to be able to exploit all of them.
FIGHT! Pick: Edgar
The more I hear people say things like, “there’s no way (insert fighters name here) can lose this fight,” the more nervous I get. There are hundreds of ways any fighter can lose any fight and overconfidence doesn’t pay in MMA. Do I think that Randy will take Toney down and finish him with strikes or a submission? Yes. Do I think that Toney stands a very good chance of catching Couture with a counter hook before the fight goes to the mat? Yes. That’s why I don’t like this fight from a bettors perspective, and why I’m not going to pull the trigger on making a pick.
FIGHT! Pick: Don’t risk it.
Gray Maynard is big, he’s strong, he’s a great wrestler when he wants to use it. He has heavy hands but lacks the timing and flow to seriously hurt anyone with them yet. In his last five fights, Maynard is 5-0 with decision wins over Nate Diaz, Roger Huerta, Jim Miller, Rich Clementi, and Frankie Edgar.
By comparison, Kenny Florian is not so big, strong, a better wrestler than he gets credit for, a well-developed striker with good footwork, and a high-level submission game. In his last five, Florian is 4-1 with victories over Takanori Gomi, Clay Guida, Joe Stevenson, Roger Huerta and a loss to then-champ BJ Penn.
My money is on Florian getting a third crack at the belt.
FIGHT! PIck: Kenny Florian
Mario Miranda is a long middleweight, a good striker and good grappler. Demian Maia’s BJJ is otherworldly but his striking is coming along nicely. Don’t be surprised if this becomes a kickboxing match, but Maia will find a way to get this fight to the ground where he can do what he does better than just about anyone else.
FIGHT! Pick: Demian Maia
I actually see a lot of parallels between this fight and Nick Diaz vs. K.J. Noons, the difference being that Noons is a quicker, crisper boxer and Nate’s older brother had a face that was built for bleeding. Davis will likely try to bully Diaz with punches and clinch work, but if the fight goes to the ground, Diaz is more than able to tie Davis up from the bottom.
FIGHT! Pick: Nate Diaz
FIGHT! Pick: Edgar Resulting Outcome: CORRECT
Kenny Florian (-155) vs. Gray Maynard (+125)
FIGHT! PIck: Kenny Florian Resulting Outcome: INCORRECT
Demian Maia (-250) vs. Mario Miranda (+190)
FIGHT! Pick: Demian Maia Resulting Outcome: CORRECT
Marcus Davis (+160) vs Nathan Diaz (-200)
FIGHT! Pick: Nate Diaz Resulting Outcome: CORRECT