This Saturday's UFC 136 is one of the biggest MMA fight cards of 2011 with two title fights, a number one contender matchup, and many major names. Lets take a look ahead to this Saturday's major matchups:
1. Frank Edgar versus Gray Maynard III will answer more questions than just who will walk away with the belt
When Edgar-Maynard 2 resulted in a Draw it was more than just a disappointment to both fighters but to the rest of the 155 pound division. Due to their draw and needing a third fight, there is a log jam of top level lightweight fighters who are jockeying to be next in line for to fight for the UFC lightweight belt. The winner of Saturdays fight presents a unique challenge to the rest of the division. Edgar is a talented wrestler with excellent stamina and good kickboxing skills while Maynard is an elite wrestler with excellent strength and major power In his hands. Edgar is a fast paced fighter who utilizes agility and constant movement while Maynard who is a grinder who wants to beat down his opponent. Both fighters present unique challenges to the other 155 pound fighters clamoring to be next in line for a title shot. Clay Guida has six MMA losses by submission; Ben Henderson’s last loss was to a dynamic striker. Gilbert Melendez’s last loss was a grinding decision defeat to a grappler. Meanwhile fighters such as Melvin Guillard and Donald Cerrone are not far behind the top conenders with their recent win streaks. Also, if Maynard beats Edgar Saturday night there may be another fighter who may jump into the pool to via for a shot at the title: former UFC Lightweight Champion BJ Penn.
2. Kenny Florian gets another shot at a title and this may be the best chance he will ever have at winning a belt
Kenny Florian has accomplished a lot in his MMA career from making it to the Ultimate Fighter Season 1 Finale, fighting twice for the UFC Lightweight Championship, and becoming the first UFC fighter to compete in four different weight classes. This will be his third shot at winning a UFC title and this may be his best opportunity. That is no negative against current UFC 145 pound champion Jose Aldo but Florian is a much different type of fighter than Aldo has faced since he has rattled off 12 wins and defended his championship belt three times. Aldo has faced fighters with wrestling, judo, and boxing expertise. Florian presents a different challenge: a talented Brazilian jiu-jitsu fighter with good Muay Thai skills. Florian’s 5 career MMA losses have been to four wrestlers and BJ Penn and Aldo did not look his best in his last fight. It will be interesting to see how Aldo reacts when Florian throws the type of kicks that Aldo is use to inflicting on others.
3. Will Chael Sonnen's layoff hurt him against an ever evolving Brian Stann?
The last time Chael Sonnen was in an MMA fight he was 5 minutes away from defeating a man considered the best MMA fighter of all and becoming the UFC Middleweight champion. Then Sonnen tapped due to a triangle choke, got suspended for testing positive for high levels of testosterone, then his suspension got reduced and now more than a year later he is back in action. The bad news for Sonnen is that this Saturday night he is facing a fighter who seems unbeatable in Brian Stann. Stann is the former WEC Light Heavyweight Champion and since moving down to 185 pounds he is on a three fight winning streak with notable knockout wins over Chris Leben and Jorge Santiago. The biggest factor in this fight will be Sonnen’s wrestling prowess since Stann’s last loss was to Phil Davis (a NCAA Division 1 Wrestling National Champion). With every fight Stann has improved his MMA game and he will be tested against a tough and relentless fighter in Sonnen. The real question will be has Stann’s MMA game evolved enough to win or will Sonnen have “ring rust”.
4. Melvin Guillard is on a mission, but will Joe Lauzon or fate get in the way?
Since 2008 Guillard is 8-1 in the UFC with only two fights going to decision. Thanks to his work with Greg Jackson MMA Guillard is finally accessing his full potential as a fighter and it seems like he is on track to get a shot at fighting for the title. But first he has to get by Joe Lauzon and the last time he faced a fight with good standup and good brazilian jiu-jitsu was nate Diaz and Guillard was submitted by Diaz. Since that loss Guillard has faced many talented wrestlers but not another BJJ fighter with above avergae standup skills. Also, if Guillard beats Lauzon his Jackson MMA teammate Clay Guida has a fight next month that could set him up as next in line to fight the winner of Edgar-Maynard and if Guida wins the belt will Guillard really fight his teammate? Only time will tell what fate has in store for Guillard.