UFC 118 is a loaded card from top to bottom. You wouldn't think so based on all the coverage being devoted to James Toney but I assure you there are some great matchups to behold on Saturday. One of them is what will likely be the 3rd fight of the evening, Kenny Florian vs Gray Maynard. After losing to BJ Penn at UFC 101, Florian has reeled off two wins in a row against Clay Guida and Takanori Gomi. Maynard has never lost including wins in the UFC against the likes of Nate Diaz, Jim Miller and Roger Huerta. He also represents the lone mark on the record of current champion Frank Edgar.
The UFC is in an interesting predicament. Florian is probably the top Lightweight in the UFC not named BJ Penn. His only two losses at 155 are in championship fights against Sean Sherk and the previously mentioned Penn. Despite his success against the rest of the division, he seems to choke when he gets his title shot. A Maynard victory assures him a chance at the belt but does the same hold true for Florian?
"I haven’t heard anything officially from the UFC. But I think that on the 28th of August the 4 best lightweights in the world are fighting on the same card, and I think that the winners should face each other. But, its up to the UFC and I’m fine with whatever they decide. Hopefully in the fight I can prove I deserve another shot, and prove I’m a different fighter since last time."
"I want to say I did my best and always tested myself against the best fighters in the world. God willing, I’ll get that third shot, that’s the goal. As a fighter, you have to believe that you can beat anyone in the world, even in other weight classes. If you don’t have that confidence and belief then you shouldn’t be in the sport. I’ve never done many things in my life to be 3rd or 2nd best, it’s the goal of every human to be the best, the best father you can be, the best student you can be, best employee, business owner."
That's Florian talking to Fighters Only about whether he will get a title shot if he beats Maynard on Saturday. He's right in that the 4 best Lightweights in the UFC will be fighting at UFC 118. The problem lies within who comes out victorious. I fully believe that if Edgar can manage to beat Penn again then Florian would get another chance at the belt. If BJ wins then he's out of luck. The way he was decisively beaten at UFC 101 left no desire to see a rematch between the two. So he needs to win and he also needs Penn to lose to get a shot. Don't be fooled by Dana making the remark at the UFC 118 pre-fight press conference that the winner gets a guaranteed title shot. Trust me, if Florain and Penn both win, he'll be backing off those remarks at the post-fight presser.
Here is another question. Even if both Florain and Edgar win, does that mean he deserves the next shot? True he will have won 3 in a row against solid competition but George Sotiropoulos has won 6 in a row. What is truly the right way to determine a number one contender? That's another way in which MMA becomes about being spectacle as opposed to being sport. They decide matchups at times based on what they believe will sell as opposed to who deserves it more. Then again, how do we even decide such a thing?