UFC 136: "Edgar vs. Maynard III" is all set to go down tomorrow night (Oct. 8, 2011) live from the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.
Remember: MMAmania.com will provide LIVE updates with blow-by-blow, round-by-round commentary of the main card action on fight night, which is slated to air at 9 p.m. ET on pay-per-view (with Facebook and Spike TV "Prelim" fights beginning at 6:30 and 8:00 p.m. ET, respectively).
In the headlining bout, lightweight champion Frankie Edgar will try to eliminate Gray Maynard from the 155-pound title picture once and for all in their "Space City" trilogy, one that will finally free the division up for the many worthy contenders gunning for the next shot at the belt.
Two other main card bouts featuring division contenders pits Chael Sonnen vs. Brian Stann in a middleweight mash-up along with the lightweight clash of styles that sees Melvin Guillard taking on Joe Lauzon.
There will certainly be a lot to talk about on Sunday morning.
I've also included the current betting lines for each fight so you can get a feel for what the money has to say about the chances of each combatant.
Now, enough with the formalities ... let's get cracking:155 lbs.: Frankie "The Answer" Edgar (13-1-1) vs. Gray "The Bully" Maynard (10-0-1)
Nostradumbass predicts: If you follow the logical progression, you will see that Frankie Edgar beats Gray Maynard on Saturday night. First he lost, then he tied, now he wins. Sounds like an idiotic formula for basing a prediction but hey, this is sports, nothing ever makes sense.
My argument for "The Answer" is the same one from their last fight: He's a busier fighter. Maynard will do more damage with his strikes, but Edgar will land more and score more points. Plus Gray is mad, really mad, and thinks he should be champion. Emotions are the Achilles heel of every great fighter.
Edgar may also be in his head a little bit.
Not only does "The Bully" beat him in their first encounter, he damn near decapitates him in the rematch -- only to watch the Toms River native storm back and pull even. No matter how formidable you are on the inside, that has to be disheartening on some level.
It also doesn't help that UFC President Dana White already said these two are done after tomorrow night. Losing in Houston means you go to the back of a very, very long line. I think Maynard, who is stronger and better on the mat, gives this fight away by fighting angry.
He'll look great early on, but when Edgar refuses to go away, Maynard will lose his composure and stomp around with the "Hulk Smash" mentality.
It's liable to cost him the fight.
Betting lines (as of Oct. 7): Edgar (-140) vs. Maynard (+110)
Prediction: Edgar via unanimous decision
Nostradumbass predicts: Anderson Silva once said that if Jose Aldo fought at middleweight, he would retire. That should give you an idea of what kind of heart Kenny Florian has. Ever see one of those disaster movies where everyone is trying to flee the city -- yet one crazy bastard is still trying to get back in? That's "KenFlo," who seems to be the only one in a big hurry to get in front of the champ.
I wish this story had a happy ending but it doesn't. This is an old dog and dropping to 145-pounds is his new trick. Sure, from a technical perspective, Florian is the prototype for every aspiring fighter. Well-rounded, intelligent, conditioned; however, as a physical specimen, he leaves a lot to be desired.
At 35-years-old, he just doesn't have the speed or the power to handle a fighter as dynamic as "Junior," who like Jon Jones at light heavyweight, can easily befuddle even the most precise gameplanner with strikes that seemingly come from nowhere -- and at blinding speeds.
The guard means nothing against the force of the Brazilian's grappling and while the long and lanky limbs of the Bostonian may serve him well from his back, he'll be too busy trying to keep himself from getting killed to use them offensively.
I know it's tempting to make a stronger argument in favor of Florian based on Aldo's fight against Mark Hominick, but a bad weight cut and severe illness two weeks before the fight drained the life from "Scarface" and left him mortal in rounds 4-5. Prior to that? "The Machine," for all his vaunted striking prowess, looked like a guy they pulled out of the stands and fed to the lions.
Barring some pre-fight catastrophe that would hinder his conditioning, I don't see any scenario in which this fight plays out that doesn't leave "KenFlo" getting crushed.
Betting lines (as of Oct. 7): Aldo (-450) vs. Florian (+300)
Prediction: Aldo via technical knockout
Nostradumbass predicts: Screeeeeeeeeech (crash) Sorry y'all, but the Brian Stann War Wagon just blew a tire and careened into the cement divider. No, not the one that separates opposing lanes on the highway, the one that separates the contenders from the pretenders.
Is Brian Stann a talented fighter? Of course. Is he a top five middleweight? Of course not.
So how did he get invited to the party? Well, the "All American" is a fresh face in what has become a very tired-looking 185-pound division. Pardon me for not getting excited for a possible rematch between Anderson Silva and Vitor Belfort, who got smoked like an unfiltered Camel back in February.
It also helps that he pasted Chris Leben and Jorge Santiago, but they aren't exactly at the top of the food chain either. The bottom line is this: Stann is a war hero and he likes to knock people out. He's the feel-good story of 2011 and impossible not to like -- or at the very least, respect.
But if he was Joey Bananas from Brooklyn with the same record, it would be hard to give a damn.
Breaking down this fight is fairly easy. Go back to UFC 109 in February 2010, which is hardly ancient history, and see what Phil Davis did to him over the course of three rounds. Does anyone think the fight against Sonnen will play out any differently?
Stann has improved his footwork -- dramatically -- and his time at Jackson's MMA has served him well. But Chael is on another level. You can discount the Silva fight if you choose, call him juiced up or say "The Spider" had a broken rib or whatever, no problemo, then just go back to the Marquardt and Okami fights, two huge middleweights with heavy hands.
They were schooled. Badly.
I expect the more of the same tomorrow night, as Sonnen dominates with his wrestling for three rounds and dishonorably discharges Stann from the 185-pound title hunt. Then again, Stann did beat Mike Massenzio via triangle choke, which is probably why the line on Sonnen is -280 and not -480.
Betting lines (as of Oct. 7): Sonnen (-280) vs. Stann (+220)
Prediction: Sonnen via unanimous decision
Nostradumbass predicts: Wee-woo-wee-woo-wee-woo! Oh s--t, somebody done messed up and sounded the Nostradumbass upset alarm. Could it be? Joe Lauzon the winner over Melvin Guillard? Are you ready to believe? Like The Who would say: "You better, you better, you bet."
I'll be the first guy to admit Melvin has ridiculous hands and scary power. But let's not go overboard here. Since being choked out by Nate Diaz back in 2009, he's had three (T)KO wins. Two of them were over Waylon Lowe and Shane Roller. Decent fighters, but not exactly the kind of names that scream "title contender."
His other two wins included a unanimous decision win over Ronnys Torres and a split decision nod over Jeremy Stephens. Again, a couple of tough guys, but looking back, the big win for the "Young Assassin" was at Fight for the Troops 2, when he folded Evan Dunham like a flag at Arlington National Cemetery.
Dunham's biggest win to date? A split decision over Tyson Griffin.
I think you see where I'm going with this. Guillard has looked great, gotten the "W" and improved his divisional rankings. But he's also a guy with star power. He has the look, he talks trash with the best of them and most of all, he looks good in the highlight reels. That's helped elevate him probably a little higher than he where he really should be and Lauzon is going to prove that in Houston.
"J-Lau" hasn't exactly been lighting the world on fire (Gabe Ruediger? Curt Warbuton?) and he doesn't have a chance in hell of winning the stand-up, but he's a bad match-up for Melvin in that he's crafty, cerebral and just flat-out good at submitting people.
True, he's got to get it to the ground without getting his head taken off, but I think his opponent, who may have been afflicted with a case of chronic overconfidentitis, may smell blood and prematurely rush in for the kill, only to end up trapped in a fight-ending choke.
Never discount the intangibles, folks. Lauzon will find a way to get 'er done.
Betting lines (as of Oct. 7): Guillard (-450) vs. Lauzon (+300)
Prediction: Lauzon via submission
Nostradumbass predicts: I'm surprised Leonard Garcia hasn't been kicked out of Jackson's MMA by now considering how much they preach effective gameplanning. Garcia doesn't fight like a mixed martial artist, he fights like Bald Bull from Punch-Out. Me charge! Me swing big punch! You duck and lose fight anyway!
The problem is I've never been that enamored with Phan, who has become something of a media darling over the last year or so. His record is pretty underwhelming since stepping out of the regional scene and while he has a ton of heart, I'm not sure he's durable enough to last another three rounds against Garcia.
Part of that, I think, will stem from overconfidence.
He's spent the last year hearing about how he won their first fight and then after losing to Mike Brown at UFC 133, he was showered with accolades for surviving a first round blitzkrieg to make it a close fight. With that in mind, he may get a little too comfortable on his feet, expecting perhaps a Edgar-esque performance where he darts in and out and runs away with the decision.
Garcia is not a world beater and I don't even know if he's a better fighter than he was two years ago -- but he doesn't have to be. All he needs to do is let Phan get comfortable enough to make a mistake inside the pocket, which he will, and then unload on him with his tried-and-true bar-fight beatdown.
Phan is going out.
Betting lines (as of Oct. 7): Garcia (+175) vs. Phan (-225)
Prediction: Garcia via knockout
That's a wrap, folks.
Remember to come check us out after the show for all the latest results, recaps and coverage of UFC 136: "Edgar vs. Maynard III."
What do you think? Now it's your turn ... let us have it in the comments section and share your thoughts and picks for tomorrow night's event.