UFC 118 predictions, preview and analysis

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The Ultimate Fighting Championship's first ever event in the state of Massachusetts is set for this Saturday night (August 28) at the TD Garden in Boston. UFC 118: "Edgar vs. Penn 2" will air live on pay-per-view beginning at 10 p.m. ET.

Newly crowned 155-pound champion Frankie Edgar will defend his title for the first time in the featured fight of the night against BJ Penn, the man he claimed the belt from less than five months ago at UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi.

Heavyweight boxing champion James "Lights Out" Toney will make his mixed martial arts debut in the co-headliner opposite UFC Hall of Famer Randy "The Natural" Couture. Kenny Florian and Gray Maynard will also battle it out in a lightweight number one contender eliminator bout.

As usual, MMAmania.com will provide LIVE blow-by-blow, round-by-round coverage of event beginning with the pay-per-view telecast at 10 p.m. ET. In addition, we will deliver up-to-the-minute quick results of all the under card action much earlier on fight night.

To help get you better prepared for the festivities I've provided some analysis and predictions for the main card below.

Check it out:

Frankie "The Answer" Edgar vs. BJ "The Prodigy" Penn

Despite the loss at UFC 112, I still believe BJ Penn is the top 155-pound mixed martial artist in the world, and when he's motivated and focused, he's very close to unbeatable. I didn't see that from him in Abu Dhabi. I didn't see a motivated and hungry champion. I believe he overlooked Frankie, and it cost him a close decision.

With his motivation and focus back, I think Edgar is in trouble. BJ's attitude coming into this fight reminds me of when he fought Jens Pulver the second time. The title, redemption, his legacy: none of those things seem to matter all that much to him right now. He seems focused on one thing, Frankie Edgar.

BJ has to find an answer for Frankie's stick and move routine. He's going to have to find ways to cut the cage off. He's going to have to be much more crisp with his counter striking, and he's going to have to counter with some two and three punch combos instead of just trying to land one big punch at the end of an exchange.

Edgar's speed, footwork and boxing skills make those things very difficult to accomplish, but BJ definitely has the tools and the talent to win this fight in a stand up battle. However, if he's having similar troubles getting off with his punches in this fight like he did at UFC 112, then he's going to have to humble up and find ways to involve his jiu-jitsu.

The good news for him is, if he can get the fight to the ground, he is far and away the better fighter in that area. Edgar has solid wrestling, but on the mat BJ doesn't have many equals in the 155-pound division. His flexibility and grappling skills make him one of the top ground technicians in the sport.

I think that's where BJ separates himself in this match up, and I think that's where he has the best chance to win this fight. However, I still think he's absolutely capable of winning a stand and trade battle with Edgar, and if he's having success in the exchanges, he might not have a reason to take the fight to the ground.

The important thing for BJ is to recognize that he has the skills and the size to dictate where this fight goes. He can't just stand back and allow Frankie to do whatever he wants like he did at UFC 112. BJ has to push the pace more, get up in Frankie's face and bully him a little bit like Gray Maynard did. He's capable of taking away Frankie's speed with that type of attack. If he has to use a lot of clinching and grappling, then that's what he should do.

The point is, BJ has the tools to win this fight in any area. I see no reason to believe that a hungry and motivated BJ Penn won't leave that Octagon with the belt back around his waist on Saturday night.

Final prediction: BJ Penn via decision

Randy "The Natural" Couture vs. James "Lights Out" Toney

This fight doesn't need much analysis. Most MMA fans are confident that we have the right guy representing our sport in the first big time clash of MMA vs. boxing, and the outcome seems like a foregone conclusion. Couture is going to represent the sport the same way he always has, like a respected champion.

The main theme here is going to be: Can Toney stay on his feet long enough to score a knockout? And my answer to that question is an easy one.

No.

Randy Couture is a hall of fame mixed martial artist who has made a living out of out-wrestling fellow world class mixed martial artists. He's been training wrestling and MMA at a world class level for most of his life. He could come into this fight drunk, blind and injured and he'd still be able to take Toney down. It's second nature to him.

James Toney is going to get taken off his feet, and then he's going to get submitted. The end.

Final prediction: Randy Couture via submission

Kenny "Ken-Flo" Florian vs. Gray "The Bully" Maynard

Kenny Florian is going to surprise Gray Maynard with his ability to defend his takedowns and deal with his strength. Training with GSP on a regular basis will certainly help you improve in those areas, and it's going to show in this fight.

I don't think you can completely eliminate takedowns from the equation with Gray Maynard, but Florian specializes in taking away his opponents biggest strength. He'll be well prepared to keep Gray at a distance in this fight.

Take those two things away from him and Maynard is forced to trade strikes with Florian. While Gray's hand speed and boxing have become very dangerous weapons for him, I don't like his chances at all in a kickboxing match with Kenny.

I don't know how aggressive Kenny will be with his kicks, but he's going to have to use them at some point if he's going to win the striking battle. The key will be to stick and move when he uses his kicks so Maynard can't catch one and use it against him.

I see this fight going the entire fifteen minutes, and I think Florian's takedown defense and striking from the outside will be enough to claim the decision and another shot at BJ Penn.

Final prediction: Kenny Florian via decision

Demian Maia vs. Mario Miranda

Maia made his name in the UFC by submitting his first five opponents, including top contender Chael Sonnen at UFC 95. But in three starts since then, albeit to some stiff competition, he hasn't been anywhere near as successful finishing fights with his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu attack.

However, this is going to be the fight where he gets back to doing what he does best.

Miranda has shown that he has the talent to belong in the UFC. He has good length and excellent athleticism. His striking is solid and he's a Brazilian, so jiu-jitsu is in his blood. He's a well rounded, dangerous fighter. But he's out-classed on the ground in this fight.

Maia has improved his striking since joining the UFC, but he's not going to trade blows with Miranda. This is a fight that he's going to want to get in and get out. He wants to work his way back up the ladder, and finishing fights quickly is the best way to do that. Plus, he's just giving up too much length and speed to his fellow countryman on the feet.

Look for Maia to get this fight the ground A.S.A.P. and work for submissions from there.

Final prediction: Demian Maia via submission

Nate Diaz vs. Marcus Davis

Marcus Davis says he has better boxing than Nate Diaz, and I believe him. But, I can't help but think back to the way Mike Swick was able to use his reach advantage to out-strike and out-grapple him back at UFC 85, not to mention the Ben Saunders beatdown at UFC 106. And I can't help but think that Diaz can potentially have similar success on his feet and on the ground in this fight.

Diaz's boxing has steadily improved since graduating from TUF, and like his brother, he uses his length well. Against a shorter guy like Davis, that is a big weapon to have in your arsenal. Diaz should use more kicks in this fight as well to keep Davis at a strikeable distance. I can definitely see Davis having some trouble getting inside on him without getting beat to the punch or tied up.

When they do get tied up in clinch situations, Davis' strength should provide him an advantage, and he should be able to take Nate down from there if he wants to. But it's not like he has the ability to take him down and grind out a decision. If Davis does get Diaz to his back he's liable to get submitted if he stays there for too long.

However, I think he's over confident in his strength advantage with Diaz coming up from 155, and I think he may have a false sense of security on the ground because of that, especially from the top position. If Diaz starts bothering him on his feet with his reach and Davis elects to go for takedowns, I think it's a definite possibility that Diaz pulls off some type of submission.

If not, I like Diaz by decision. Length has always been a problem for Davis.

Final prediction: Nate Diaz via decision

That's a wrap. Sound off with your predictions in the comments section below.

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