Tonight, the UFC takes over the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas for UFC 136: Edgar vs. Maynard III. The night’s fights cap off the two-day UFC Fan Expo being held at the George R. Brown Convention Center. As has become the norm, many fights had to be shuffled around due to fighters pulling out as the result of injuries. Now with the card finalized, let’s take a minute to break down the Main Card.
The first bout of the PPV broadcast features Lightweights Melvin “The Young Assassin” Guillard (29-8-2-1) and Joe “J-Lau” Lauzon (20-6). With Guillard gunning for a title shot, adding Lauzon to his current win streak would definitely boost his appeal to UFC brass. For Lauzon, on the other hand, a victory over Guillard would greatly improve his stock in the Lightweight division and allow him to throw his name into the hat full of title contenders. When asked about how he would deal with Lauzon’s grappling, Guillard replied with “this is a fight, not a NAGA match.” In his past five fights,Lauzon has alternated wins and losses, yet has walked home with a post-fight bonus in each (three Submissions of the Night and two Fights of the night). If Lauzon keeps his current pattern going, he could lose to Melvin and still go home with some bonus money.
The next bout is a rematch in the Featherweight division between Leonard “Bad Boy” Garcia (15-7-1) and Nam Phan (16-9). Garcia was victorious in their first meeting, in what many consider to be one of the biggest robberies in UFC history. Most people who watched the fight had it scored in favor of Phan, including UFC President Dana White. Following the fight White spoke to Phan backstage and informed him that he’d still be getting his win bonus for his performance. This is not the first time Garcia has been scrutinized for being given a win. His first bout with Chan Sung Jung was a close battle that many thought The Korean Zombie actually won. In their rematch, TKZ prevented the fight from going to the judges by submitting Garcia in the second round via Twister. Garcia will be looking to avoid a similar fate in this rematch and hopefully win some fans back by putting on a good performance. Phan will also be in desperation for a victory as he has gone 0-2 since coming of The Ultimate Fighter and going 1-4 in his last five fights.
Up next, in the Middleweight division, Chael Sonnen (25-11-1) makes his return from suspension to face off against “All-American” Brian Stann (11-3). Leading into this fight, Sonnen was unusually quiet, stating that he really had nothing to bad to say about Brian Stann. Instead of trying to hype of the fight like he has in the past, Sonnen just flew under the radar and claimed that the two of them were just going to slug it out once the cage door shut and then go get a beer afterwards. In addition to this being Sonnen’s first fight back since his suspension, it is also thought to determine the next challenger to Anderson Silva’s Middleweight Championship belt. Sonnen did point out, though, that in all his fights, not one man has outstruck him or beat him up. With Brian Stann’s improving skill set, he could very well be the first man to do so. Either way, this should be a really interesting fight.
The Co-Main Event of the evening, and first of two title fights, features Jose “Junior” Aldo (19-1) as he defends his Featherweight Championship against Kenny “KenFlo” Florian (14-5). In what will be his third title fight, fourth if you count the TUF 1 finale as a “title fight”, Kenny Florian is coming in as a big underdog. This should come as no surprise, though, seeing as Aldo has dominated nearly everyone that has been placed in front of him. It is well documented that Dana White feels that Florian chokes under the pressure of big fights, and has challenged Florian to “prove him wrong” this time around. Will Kenny Florian finally earn a championship in his fourth weight class? The only person standing between him and the gold is the most dominant man in the division.
The Main Event, and second title fight of the evening, is the long-awaited rubber match between Lightweight Champion Frankie “The Answer” Edgar (13-1-1) and Gray “The Bully” Maynard (10-0-1-1). In the first fight, Maynard dominated Edgar and picked up a unanimous decision victory, and gave Edgar his only loss. In their rematch at the beginning of this year, Maynard dominated early on but Edgar fought back in the late rounds to send it to the judges’ score cards; resulting in a highly disappointing draw. Now, both fueled by wanting to prove they are deserving of the championship, both fighters will look to stop the fight before the judges have a chance to get involved. Following the draw, Maynard became both blemishes on Edgar’s record and Edgar wants to avenge them both.