The main event between lightweight champion Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard is a rematch of their April of 2008 bout that ended in a unanimous decision victory for Maynard, who earned that victory with superior wrestling and superior wrestling alone. To most, it was not a surprise for anyone since the only fight Maynard has ever kept standing was Jim Miller. While Maynard out struck Miller in that bout, he prefers to keep fighters on their back and his plan this fight will be no different. Maynard’s best bet is to replicate the first bout by utilizing powerful takedowns and ground control on the champ.
For Edgar, the key is to be “consistently inconsistent.” By that, I mean he cannot fall into any patterns (be that footwork, head movement, striking, etc.) whatsoever, because if he does, Maynard will time him and ground him. In addition, rumors are that Maynard is planning to unveil a modified front headlock series for the bout, which would mean that Edgar will be crushed unless he times his shots perfectly as counters to Maynard’s striking. Edgar must use his boxing effectively by sticking and moving on the usually slower paced Maynard. If Edgar is able to change angles and push his pace withstriking as he did in upsets of BJ Penn he should win this bout, but if it turns into a grappling war Maynard will have the advantage.
It is hard to say a champion will be an underdog, but with the current scoring system in place, the stronger wrestler is favored, which Maynard is. That said Edgar performs best as an underdog.
Chris Leben vs. Brian Stann
Chris Leben will face off with Brian Stann Saturday night in what should be an entertaining but less technical bout than the rest of the card. Leben has more ways to win: he hits hard, he has a decent ground game, and a solid chin. The last part will be the key in my opinion. Stann is not the kind of fighter to back down from a firefight and this will be just that. Unless Stann uses a better gameplan and looks for the takedowns, a brawl with Leben will likely just end with broken hands for Stann and a Leben victory. If Leben is on his back though, Stann must not get sloppy like Akiyama and actively look to submit Leben. Since Leben has shown some vulnerability once his guard is passed, it would be natural to assume that the Greg Jackson and Roberto Traven trained fighter will look to pass Leben’s guard. That said, do not expect the most technical battle but it should be an entertaining fight.
Thiago Silva vs. Brandon Vera
In light heavyweight action, Thiago Silva will meet Brandon Vera in match-up of Muay Thai strikers. Both fighters are coming off long layoffs and both will be in desperate need of a win to keep their jobs. Silva is the more powerful striker in all aspects and only needs one shot to land to win. Vera has great technique but is less powerful and will need to be constantly moving to keep Silva from loading up. The x-factor here is whether Vera reverts to his ODU days and grounds Silva rather than trading with him. If Vera can avoid the big exchanges he wins, but if not he will be going to sleep and waking up looking for a new job.
Nate Diaz vs. Dong Hyun Kim
The next matchup will be one in which Nate Diaz is almost guaranteed to curse out his opponent. Dong Hyun Kim will be looking to place Diaz on his back and pepper the Caesar Gracie product with ground and pound in order to secure a victory via decision. If he slips up even once on the mat, Kim will face a varying attack of submissions, and if he lets his guard down on his feet Diaz will be able to pick him apart with better boxing for the rest of the bout.
Clay Guida vs. Takanori Gomi
Clay Guida and Takanori Gomi is simple: if the “Fireball Kid” has not worked his takedown defense and trained cardio extensively he will lose. Guida will push the pace the entire bout, as always, and as long as he is able to avoid the striking of Gomi this fight should not be close. Expect another high energy performance from the GEICO caveman lookalike.
UFC 125 airs live on pay-per-view at 1opm ET from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, while the UFC 125 prelims air on ION TV at 9pm ET.
Pictured: Chris Leben