UFC 136

Two titles are on the line. Frankie Edgar will be defending his Lightweight title against Gray Maynard in a rematch that ended in a controversial draw in their last bout.  And Jose Aldo will try to retain his title against the veteran Kenny Florian whose been trying to capture a title of his own the past few years.

Edgar vs. Maynard

This will be their third fight against each other with Maynard holding a win over Edgar in their first fight. In their last fight, Maynard was so close to finishing the fight in the first round, but Edgar was able to weather the storm and took control of the fight to even it up on the score card.

Expect Maynard to come into this fight with a controlled game plan. He will use is physical strength and wrestling to control his opponent.  He’ll want to take the fight to the ground and wear the New Jersey native down. But it won’t be easy as Edgar’s foot movement and quick hands will be the deciding factor of this fight.  If Edgar can keep the fight on the feet, he will retain the title. Both are good wrestlers and in the end I see Edgar fending off Maynard’s takedowns and utilize his quickness to keep Maynard at bay and score points with this hands.

Aldo vs. Florian

Aldo has dominated all his opponents since he debuted in the WEC.  Since holding the Featherweight title he looked untouchable.  In his last fight against Mark Hominick, Aldo seemed to exposed a weaknesses. It was his cardio.  Some were saying Aldo had an injury that forced him to make a big weight cut right before the fight, but who knows?

Florian has made an unprecedented move by dropping to a fourth weight class. He was able to prove that he belongs in the division by beating a tough and top contender, Diego Nunes.  Florian will be Aldo’s toughest opponent yet. Well-rounded with tons of experience Florian will force the Champion to bring his A-Game.

I’m excited for this fight as Aldo is one of the most explosive fighters in MMA. His striking is phenomenal and his team mates say his ground game is just as good. We haven’t seen it yet as he has not have the opportunities to use it in the octagon. I believe Florian’s striking is good too, but not at the level that Aldo has displayed.  I expect Florian to use his reach advantage, but when the opportunities are there he will try to stifle Aldo by keeping him up against the cage. Keeping the fight in tight quarters where Florian can use his knees and elbows is key to scoring points and maintain control.  It’s out in the middle of the octagon is where Aldo can blast those big leg kicks and crushing knees.  I see Florian struggling to control the Brazilian phenom. Aldo will be just too fast and powerful in the striking game.

My Picks:

Frankie Edgar beats Gray Maynard
Jose Aldo beats Kenny Florian
Chael Sonnen beats Brian Stann
Nam Phan beats Leonard Garcia
Melvin Guillard beats Joe Lauzon
Demian Maia beats Jorge Santiago
Jeremy Stephens beats Anthony Pettis
Zhang Tiequan beats Darren Elkins
Eric Schafer beats Aaron Simpson

UFC 125

As of tomorrow night it’ll be Frankie Edgar’s 3rd title fight in 9 months and a title defense within 4 months. As a UFC Champion that’s a quick turnaround given that other Champs take 6 or more months in between defenses. After beating BJ Penn twice Edgar is still not getting any respect coming into this fight. Many of the bookies and analysts expect Maynard to take the belt from the New Jersey native. Seeing that Maynard did win against their last bout it’s not unreasonable to believe he will win again.  Both fighters have grown leaps and bounds since their last meeting. Maynard has greatly improved his stand-up and Edgar’s ever-evolving quick hands and feet have helped both fighters rise to the top of the division.

This fight will be their most important fight of their careers. A win for Edgar will truly mark him as the undisputed Champion of the lightweight division and will give him the respect he deserves. For Maynard, it’s obvious, he gets the title. But a loss for either will put them much deeper down the division since UFC / WEC merger will add a boat load of up-and-coming lightweight fighters to the roster.

In their last fight Marynard received the unanimous decision. Maynard utilized his wrestling to control the fight and to keep Edgar off his feet as much as possible. It was a poor game plan on Edgar’s part. Edgar seemed so focused on striking and didn’t use his wrestling to mix up his attack which I think costs him that fight, but that loss doesn’t mean Maynard is a more superior wrestler than Edgar. Edgar’s wrestling credentials are just as impressive as any one in the UFC.  If Edgar mixes up his boxing and wrestling like he did against his last bout with BJ Penn a repeat win for Maynard won’t be as likely. For the past few months I can see Maynard winning this fight again in similar fashion, but after watching their last fight a few times and Edgar’s fights against BJ Penn I now I have change my mind that Frankie Edgar will win in this rematch. The fight will be close and a controversial win won’t be that all surprising.

My Picks:

Jacob Volkmann beats Antonio McKee
Clay Guida beats Takanori Gomi
Dong Hyun Kim beats Nate Diaz
Josh Grispi beats Dustin Poirier
Jeremy Stephens beats Marcus Davis
Thiago Silva beats Brandon Vera
Brian Stann beats Chris Leben
Frankie Edgar beats Gray Maynard