Webster’s dictionary defines ‘eternal conflict’ as two fighters who are stuck rematching over and over again with no real resolution reached at the end of each fight, and while an entire weight class is left paralyzed by the log jam at the top. Yeah, that pretty much describes what’s been going on with lightweight champ Frankie Edgar and challenger Gray Maynard, who are meeting for a third time on Saturday night in the main event of UFC 136. When last they fought, Maynard beat on Edgar so hard in the opening round, Edgar’s New Jersey accent inexplicably changed to Cockney English. But “The Answer” survived, and came back to trounce the challenger; the end result was a draw. So here we are, doing it again, and Dana White has sworn that this is it, regardless of the outcome the conflict ends here – and if there is no concrete resolution, he’s going to exile the two best 155-pound fighters in the world to a remote cabin in the Rockies and two new guys are going to fight for the belt. Or something like that. Anyway, UFC 136 preview. Check it.
-Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard – We know for sure that Maynard can hit hard, and we’re damn sure that Edgar can take a punch. Plus, there’s a ton of dominant wrestling, submission knowledge and transitional ability for days that both guys possess. The big question, then, is if Maynard can put his hands on the champ like he did in their last meeting. Can he? It’s doubtful, because you have to think Edgar was still a bit fuzzy in Rounds 2 through 5 of their UFC 125 bout, and still Maynard was unable to find his chin again. So watch for the champ to earn the decision, and remain the champ for a while longer.
-Jose Aldo vs. Kenny Florian – In his last title defense, featherweight contract killer Aldo went the distance with Mark Hominick, and won handily despite allegedly being sick. In his featherweight debut at UFC 131, Florian had a rough time getting past Diego Nunes, who wasn’t exactly on the fast track to a shot at the belt. Now, taking into consideration Florian’s size advantage and experience fighting bigger guys, his jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai chops, adding to the equation Aldo’s dynamic and explosive jiu-jitsu and kickboxing, and employing a bit of MMA Math™, the only logical conclusion to come to is this: Florian’s going to get destroyed.
-Brian Stann vs. Chael Sonnen – Stann has been looking great lately, blasting dudes like Chris Leben and Jorge Santiago into oblivion with fists full of C4. Unfortunately for the Great American Hero, his opponent is Sonnen, who before a suspension for failed drug test madness, handled champ Anderson Silva like he was a malnourished prisoner at Guantanamo Bay. Stann is ending up on his back in this one – early and often – and Sonnen is earning himself another crack at Silva’s belt.
-Leonard Garcia vs. Nam Phan – It used to aggravate me when Garcia would get unwarranted decision after unwarranted decision, and I bet it aggravated TUF 12 veteran Phan when he was on the receiving end of one the instances of the unfairness. But then the Korean Zombie got justice by tapping Garcia out with a Twister in their rematch, and now I feel the karmic scales are on their way to being balanced. All it will take is for Phan to out-strike and out-point Garcia in their rematch on Saturday night – and with his sharper striking, he most certainly can do it – and everything will be right with the world.
-Melvin Guillard vs. Joe Lauzon – In Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis”, the main character is transformed into a monstrous bug overnight. Guillard’s transformation from TUF castoff to “Destroyer of Worlds” wasn’t quite as quick, but it’s been every bit as dramatic. Thus far in 2011, we’ve watched Guillard crush Shane Roller and Evan Dunham like they were nothing, and the “Young Assassin” doesn’t look like he’s stopping for anyone – which doesn’t bode well for opponent Lauzon. Lauzon’s fantastic on the ground, and certainly has the tools to hand his a foe a loss, but if he can’t get it to into his realm he’s doomed.