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UFC 118 - Main Card Fantasy Preview

In a city that’s home to some of the most iconic moments in sports history, the Ultimate Fighting Championship plans on making history of its own on Saturday night when the Octagon gate closes in Boston for the first time. Read on for the UFC 118 main card fantasy game preview.   

Nate Diaz vs. Marcus Davis
Fighting not too far away from his gym in Boston, Marcus Davis, who fights out of Team Sityodtong will be looking to string together victories for the first time since he beat Paul Kelly (UFC 89) and Chris Lytle (UFC 93).  With an overall record of 22-7, Davis is a very experienced fighter, but it will be interesting to see how he responds to the nerves of opening up the Pay-Per-View telecast and fighting in front of his New England fans.
Fighting out of Stockton, CA, Nate Diaz is looking to build on the success he had at UFC 111. Diaz stopped Rory Markham halfway through the first round due to strikes. In his past eight fights, Diaz has put together a rocky record of 5-3.  Diaz knows that if he wants to make it to the top of the division, he will need to string together multiple dominating victories. 
When trying to breakdown a fight, sometimes it’s as easy as looking at their lead trainers. This is one of those times. For Diaz, who trains under Cesar Gracie, look for him to try and bring the fight to the canvas so he can look for a submission.  For Marcus Davis, on the other hand, who trains under Mark DellaGrotte for the final four weeks of training camp, will look to use his boxing and Muay Thai skills to end the fight standing and in the most vicious way possible. 

Likelihood to go the Distance: Yes
Method of Finish: Unanimous Decision

Demian Maia vs. Mario Miranda

After being involved in one of the most bizarre fights in UFC history against Anderson Silva, there probably isn’t a fighter more excited to get back inside the Octagon than Demian Maia.  After 25 minutes with Silva in April, it will be interesting to see what type of game plan Maia comes out with, and having gone 6-2 in his last eight fights, with notable wins over Chael Sonnen and Nate Quarry, it’s clear that a win will put him back in the title race.
Born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil., Mario Miranda knows how important this fight is to his UFC career.  Having split his first two fights inside the Octagon, Miranda is coming off an impressive victory over David Loiseau.  Two straight victories will put him in the thick of the division, but a loss on the other hand, would give him a 1-2 record inside the Octagon and a not so secure spot in the UFC.
When you think jiu-jitsu fighters in the UFC, the first names that usually come up are BJ Penn and Demian Maia.  In this fight, look for Maia to go back to his jiu-jitsu roots.  In four of his eight fights inside the Octagon, Maia has received “Submission of the Night” honors.  While Maia may be looking to bring the action of the fight to the canvas, that is certainly not a place Miranda will be looking to go.  Look for him to avoid the guard of Maia at all costs.     

Likelihood to go the Distance: No
Method of Finish: Submission

Kenny Florian vs. Gray Maynard

Other than Frankie Edgar and BJ Penn, there isn’t anyone more excited for the UFC 118 main event than the winner of the bout between Kenny Florian and Gray Maynard.  Look for the winner to quickly make a move from the locker room to a front row seat to watch the rematch.
Saturday night may end up being the most important and exciting night of Kenny Florian’s professional career.  Not only will Florian be fighting in front of his hometown, but the runner-up on season one of The Ultimate Fighter knows that a victory will put him in the number one spot to fight for the lightweight title.  Since his loss to Diego Sanchez in the finals of TUF1, Florian has put together an impressive 11-2 record – with notable victories over Joe Lauzon, Joe Stevenson, Clay Guida, and Takanori Gomi. 
An alumnus of season five of The Ultimate Fighter, Gray Maynard holds an unbeaten 10-0, 1 NC record inside the Octagon.  Having won seven straight fights since his no contest against Rob Emerson, Maynard knows that his opportunity to fight for UFC gold depends on his performance when the Octagon gate closes Saturday night.
For Maynard, who wrestled with Rashad Evans at Michigan State, look for him to bring the fight to the canvas.  With the strength and ground and pound ability that Maynard possesses, Florian knows that being on his back is somewhere he doesn’t want to be. For Florian, on the other hand, look for him to use his speed and Muay Thai skills to keep the fight where he has the best chance to win – on the feet.

Likelihood to go the Distance: Yes
Method of Finish: Split Decision

Randy Couture vs. James Toney

In a fight that is being dubbed Boxing vs. UFC, two legends of their respective sports will square off on Saturday night.  For James Toney, this bout will be his opportunity to prove that a top-level boxer has all the tools he needs to take out a mixed martial arts fighter. For Randy Couture on the other hand, he’d beg to differ.  Couture plans to show that there is no place for a one-dimensional fighter in the UFC. 
A three-time former heavyweight champion, two-time light heavyweight champion, and a member of the UFC Hall of Fame, Randy Couture is only one of two fighters to have won a UFC title in two divisions.  When it was announced that James Toney had signed a deal to compete in the Octagon, Couture immediately made it known that fighting a three-division boxing champion was something he would be interested in doing.   Having beaten the likes of Vitor Belfort, Kevin Randleman, Tim Sylvia, Chuck Liddell, and Tito Ortiz, Couture is rightfully considered to be a true pioneer of the sport.  Couture has become accustomed to defending MMA to the general public and lawmakers but on Saturday night, Couture will try to silence the boxing critics that believe an MMA fighter doesn’t stand a chance against a highly talented boxer. 
Having been a professional boxer for nearly 22 years, James “Lights Out” Toney makes his much-anticipated MMA debut on Saturday night.  Although other fighters have made the switch from the boxing ring to the Octagon in the past, none have entered the Octagon with the boxing credentials that Toney has accumulated over his long and successful career.  Considered by nearly every boxing expert to be a future inductee to the Boxing Hall of Fame upon his retirement from the sport, Toney has beaten the likes of Evander Holyfield, Vassiliy Jirov, Mike McCallum, Iran Barkley, and Michael Nunn.  With an overall record of 72-6-3, 2 NC (44 by KO), Toney believes that regardless of Saturday’s fight being held in a ring or a cage, his punching power will offset anything Couture tries to bring at him.  With the fight only days away, it’s time for the Michigan born fighter to back up all the talking he’s been doing leading into his MMA debut.          
In what could be the biggest clash of fighting styles in the history of the UFC, Saturday night may help settle the endless debate on how a boxing champion would fare fighting an elite MMA fighter.  Having only trained in MMA for less than a year, Toney will go into the fight knowing that he possesses, without a doubt, the most skilled set of hands the UFC has ever seen.  Although Toney has the ability to knock anyone out, his critics argue that between kicks to the legs and his inability to fight off his back, Toney doesn’t have a chance. Although few believe Toney has a chance to win, judging by the trash-talking Toney has been doing – he thinks otherwise.  The game plan Couture is expected to come in with is pretty simple – throw leg kicks and then use his world-class wrestling ability to bring Toney to the canvas.  That seems simple enough, right?  Not so fast.  In order for Couture to land kicks – that could potentially leave his upper body open to that one punch Toney needs to end the fight. Although it would be hard for someone to argue that Toney will be able to stuff his Olympic-caliber takedowns, Couture knows that by attempting a takedown, it will send him headfirst into the striking range of James Toney.

Likelihood to go the Distance: No
Method of Finish: TKO

Frankie Edgar vs. BJ Penn

Over four months ago at UFC 112, BJ Penn entered the Octagon as a heavy favorite to successfully defend his lightweight belt against Frankie Edgar.  Coming off of two dominating victories over Kenny Florian and Diego Sanchez, Penn had silenced the critics that claimed he didn’t take training seriously and didn’t have the cardio to go strong for 25 minutes.  Looking nearly unbeatable, most people saw Edgar as an easy victory.  Obviously, that wasn’t the case.  Although the fight ended up being extremely close, Edgar edged out a decision victory.  As the debate about who people actually believed won the fight continues, both Penn and Edgar will re-enter the Octagon on Saturday night looking to win in dominating fashion.  A dominating victory by either fighter will leave no doubt who sits atop the lightweight ladder.
With an impressive 12-1 professional record, like his opponent on Saturday night, it took Frankie Edgar only three years to have a championship belt put around his waist by Dana White.  Having beaten the likes of Tyson Griffin, Spencer Fisher, and Sean Sherk, Edgar knew his well-balanced attack of wrestling and boxing would give him all the tools he needed to beat Penn – regardless of the odds.  Unlike their fight four months ago, where Edgar wasn’t expected to win – it will be interesting to see how he deals with the pressure of being in the main event once again.    
Fighting out of Hilo, HI, BJ Penn will enter the Octagon for the eighteenth time in his professional career. At the age of 23, Penn is one of the few modern era fighters to have made their professional debut in the UFC. It didn’t take people long to realize just how good he was.  In less than three years into his professional career, BJ won the welterweight title at UFC 46 by defeating Matt Hughes.  After winning UFC gold, Penn stepped away from the UFC for two years.  It was clear that after the two years he was away from the UFC, Penn wasn’t the same fighter.  And after losing back-to-back fights to Georges St-Pierre and Matt Hughes, Penn dropped down in weight.  After beating rival Jens Pulver, Penn went on to become the second man to have won titles in two weight classes when he beat Joe Stevenson.  After being defeated again by St-Pierre, Penn changed his training schedule and has shown he now has the cardio to push the pace for all five rounds. Now all that’s left for him is to avenge his loss to Edgar and regain the belt.
Known for his jiu-jitsu ability, Penn is the first non-Brazilian to win the world championships at the black belt level.  With Penn potentially having the best jiu-jitsu in the UFC, look for Edgar to try and keep the fight standing like he did in the first fight. Although Penn is primarily known for his jiu-jitsu, it seems as if each time he enters the Octagon, his hands look better and better.  Although they both have good hands, Edgar is a master at using his speed and body movement to make it nearly impossible for someone to tag him.  Look for Penn to relentlessly try and bring the action to the canvas.  Penn knows that the deeper the fight goes, the less likely he is to stop a cardio machine like Edgar.  In fights that go the distance, Penn is 3-4-1 but in fights that end before the final bell, he is 12-2.     

Likelihood to go the Distance: No
Method of Finish: TKO