The place: Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, UAE
The date: 4/10/10
The event: UFC 112: Invincible
BJ Penn (champion) vs. Frankie Edgar (challenger)
UFC Lightweight Championship Match
“The Prodigy” BJ Penn (15-5-1) is the number one ranked lightweight fighter in the world. No qualms there. Frankie “The Answer” Edgar (11-1) has legitimately earned his shot by beating top-level guys, usually by decision, like Sean Sherk, Tyson Griffin, Deividas Taurosevicius, Jim Miller and a host of other mini-brutes. His only loss was, you guessed it, by decision, is to the “other” top lightweight prospect in the UFC, Gray Maynard (9-0) one year ago. So why isn’t the undefeated Maynard getting this opportunity? (Shrugs) Dunno…
To me Frankie Edgar has the best technical boxing skills in the division. Within the realm of MMA, his movement and angular punching style is nothing short of brilliant. But BJ Penn is not your typical grappler who just learned to throw a one-two last week. He is an experienced crash test, pocket player extraordinaire, who hits back…HARD. In the battle between Penn’s battering ram left jab and Edgar’s movement/quick combos, I’m thinking the Hawaiian gets lumped up less. But Edgar CAN fluster BJ and pile up points if he can stay on his bicycle, pepper Penn and avoids the clinch.
But thereâ€™s one unfortunate factor: Edgar is a small lightweight. I personally think he should campaign at featherweight. As we know, that would be a step down in terms (ahem) of visibility…and pay scale. Unless your name is Uriah, fighting below lightweight means that a) you wonâ€™t be campaigning in the UFC and b) you will probably have to get a part time job to make ends meetâ€¦even if your â€œon televisionâ€.
Did someone mention the ground? That area is an eventuality with ALL of BJâ€™s fights, a hidden trap door that you know is coming but still cannot avoid. Penn is like an improvisational jazz master who fights completely on impulse – patient yet always predatory. He characteristically lulls his foes into a slow standing decline with his ever pressing, yet sneakily intermittent CQC (close quarter combat) and then ‘oops’â€¦he takes you down. And at lightweight we know one thing; when things go to the floor with BJ, it is HIS world. The situation becomes economical, predictable yet unavoidable. BJ Penn on top of you means blood will flow, YOUR blood. And then you turn. And thenâ€¦he chokes you out. I don’t know what the odds are of survival from the rear naked choke when Penn takes your back but they have got to be infinitesimally low. And that is the finish I foresee â€“ BJ Penn retaining his beltâ€¦via RNC.
Anderson Silva (champion) vs. Demian Maia (challenger)
UFC Middleweight Championship Match
â€œPressureâ€â€¦pressure to win, pressure to put on a show, pressure to be liked by the fans, as fickle as they can sometimes be, pressure to go above and beyond what you did previously… â€œItâ€™s all in the gameâ€â€¦
When super Brazilian Anderson â€œThe Spiderâ€ Silva (25-4) steps back in to defend his UFC title against fellow countryman and 5-time jiu-jitsu world champion Demian Maia (12-1), it will be with the expectation to NOT duplicate his oft criticized performance, regardless of dominating it was, over another grappling guru, Thales Leites, one year ago. Some felt that Silva carried Leites after it appeared that Thales lost his desire to win early on. Although the ensuing dance recital insured The Spider was never more than scratched, Silvaâ€™s moonwalking his way to victory was something that rattled many fans and some execs. Personally I didnâ€™t have too much of a problem with it. True, it was a little draggy in parts, but Anderson took a few chances when he broke out a few new moves, paying tribute to several Asian action films.
But Maia is a different animal entirely. Where Leites has mucho reginale BJJ experience, Demian is a world champion, who is also coming off impressive wins over highly regarded Dan Miller (decision) and a resurrected Chael Sonnen (triangle choke). Least we forget however that sandwiched in between those two victories; Maia was clocked by Nate Marquardt.
Silva has to be careful of the obviousâ€¦fighting on the ground. But as Maia found out against Marquardt, striking changes the grappling game in MMA so much, especially when itâ€™s the lethal brand Silva brings to the Octagon. And it is that area where I believe Anderson Silva will prove too much for Demian Maia, and win by TKO. Maiaâ€™s only shot is to put The Spider on his back and get those bone a-snappinâ€™.
Matt Hughes vs. Renzo Gracie
This is an interesting match for longtime fans of the game, mainly for sentimental reasons. Renzo (13-6-1-1 NC) is the most beloved Gracie family member because of his gregarious nature and daredevil â€œfight anyoneâ€ attitude. Matt Hughes (44-7) is the former welterweight champion whose best years may be behind him. I actually think that they match up quite well and feel that things will be settled on the ground, with Renzo Gracie pulling off a really tight submission.