The ProMMAnow.com (www.prommanow.com) staff weighs in with their thoughts and predictions on the UFC 136 main card, including Gray Maynard vs. Frankie Edgar in the main event, the co-headliner between Jose Aldo and Kenny Florian, the middleweight battle between Chael Sonnen and Brian Stann, a lightweight scrap between Joe Lauzon and Melvin Guillard and last but not least, a featherweight rematch between Nam Phan and Leonard Garcia.
Frankie Edgar (13-1-1) vs. Gray Maynard (11-0-1, 1 NC)
Odds: Edgar -115, Maynard -115
DENNY HODGE: I know that Edgar has one of the biggest hearts out there, but I feel like it’s Maynard’s time. You can’t actually tell how a guy feels or where he’s at by watching a countdown show, but it seems like Gray is just hungrier right now. He won’t make the same mistakes that he did the last time out. I think he will pace himself better and be more effective in getting the fight to the mat when he’s not landing strikes. It will still be a close fight, and Edgar will have his moments, but I think Maynard takes it by unanimous decision.
KELVIN HUNT: Tough fight to call but I think the difference in the last fight was Maynard pretty much shooting his wad in the first round trying to finish Edgar. I think Maynard will be more disciplined with how he exerts his energy in this one…A fresh Maynard should be able to bully Edgar and get the takedowns when he wants to for the most part. I think Maynard knows this is his shot at becoming an champion…and he’ll want to win by any means necessary….even if it’s just takedowns and grinding out a decision like the first fight. Maynard via decision.
JOSH CROSS: If this fight is anything like their last meeting earlier this year we’re going to be in for a real treat. I think Maynard’s best chance to win is going to be to finish the fight early like he almost did in the first round of their last match. Edgar on the other hand I think will be looking to survive the early onslaught and make his move when Maynard tires in the later rounds. After what happened in their last fight I think that if Edgar gets knocked down Maynard will make sure he doesn’t get back up. I just don’t see this one being decided by the judges again. Pick: Maynard via TKO.
RICHARD MANN: In wrestling coaches preach visualizing your perfect match. Maynard had his perfect fight going against Frankie Edgar in their first fight, but still managed to drop a draw. If Maynard can’t win a fight against Edgar with almost everything going so right so early, how can he take this one? Look for “The Answer” to keep his distance, strike from the outside, wrestle in spots and get sued by Allen Iverson. Edgar by decision.
GARY THOMAS: In the rubber match Edgar gets the win he deserved in the last fight. A long time coming I see this being nothing short of another Fight of The Night Performance. Maynard has the skills to compete but Edgar grinds this. Edgar via decision.
BRIAN FURBY: Frankie Edgar.
JACK BRATCHER: I think Gray Maynard is going to correct the mistakes he made last time and do what he needs to do to beat Frankie EDgar. He punches extra hard for a lightweight and I think he’s going to finish Edgar off this time via TKO round two or three. Maynard via TKO.
Jose Aldo (19-1) vs. Kenny Florian (16-5)
Odds: Aldo -400, Florian +300
DENNY HODGE: Florian has said that the only way to beat Jose Aldo is to stand and bang with him. I don’t believe for one second that he will actually stand in the pocket and trade with Aldo. I believe Florian will try to test Aldo in the clinch, and try to get the fight to the mat, but can he close the distance without getting cracked with an Aldo kick, knee, or punch? I don’t think so. Aldo will dictate the pace, and Aldo will dictate where the fight takes place…. until he finishes it that is. Aldo by TKO.
KELVIN HUNT: As I wrote in the preview. I think Aldo is better everywhere. He’ll have the power advantage, speed advantage, and I think part of Florian’s skillset(kicks) will be a non-factor due to the fear of a takedown. Aldo via TKO.
JOSH CROSS: I think Florian is going to want to take Aldo down to the mat fairly quickly in the fight or he’ll find himself on the receiving end of Aldo’s heavy punches and stiff leg kicks. While I think Florian will test Aldo’s skills on the mat, I don’t see him being able to do enough there to counter what Aldo does on his feet. I think Aldo will be able to wear Florian down and then ultimately finish the fight. Pick: Aldo via TKO.
RICHARD MANN: When Florian dropped down to the featherweight division, I thought his biggest advantages would be his reach and his telephone poll jab. It worked so well against fighters like Clay Guida, and fighters in the featherweight division are smaller. However, in Florian’s fight against Diego Nunes, the Brazilian was able to get inside and crack him a few times. Nunes normally only scores with kicks, so this does not portend good things for the Aldo fight. Aldo should have more than enough game to win a striking battle, and Florian has never shown a dynamite wrestling game. Aldo by TKO.
GARY THOMAS: I do not see any way this doesn’t end bad for Kenny Florian. I am a huge Aldo fan and see him as the Jon Jones of the Featherweights. Aldo wins this by KO.
BRIAN FURBY: Jose Aldo.
JACK BRATCHER: I think Kenny is going to end up getting hurt. If you haven’t seen it yet, watch the video of Aldo training for this fight. I just don’t see Kenny being able to handle his power or his speed and I think he’s going to get hurt. Aldo via vicious beatdown round two.
Brian Stann (11-3) vs. Chael Sonnen (26-10-1)
Odds: Stann +210, Sonnen -280
DENNY HODGE: Stann has improved greatly in his take down defense, and ground game in general. However, Sonnen is a different kind of monster. He will put Stann on his back early and often and rack up the compustrike stats while he’s on top. So many strikers hesitate in throwing power shots because they fear the take down, but most times they get taken down anyway. Hopefully Stann will take some chances and at least try to get off before the take down happens, but I don’t think it will be enough. Sonnen by decision.
KELVIN HUNT: I think Stann has improved tremendously since the Phil Davis fight where he got wrestled to death and lost. He has very good power in his hands and is an aggressive striker. However, the threat of the takedown will negate a bit of his willingness to throw strikes or overcommit to them. He hasn’t had to worry about takedowns in his last couple of fights, but what Sonnen brings to the table changes the game. I expect Stann to defend a few of the takedowns, but Sonnen is relentless on his takedown attempts so I eventually see Sonnen getting him down. I expect Stann to try to get right back up to his feet and avoid playing the guard game even though Sonnen will fall into subs from time to time. Sonnen has a great chin, so I’m go with Sonnen via decision.
JOSH CROSS: The biggest factor I think in this fight is going to be just how much of an issue ring rust is for Sonnen, who last fought in August of last year. I don’t see it playing much of a role, and if it doesn’t, I think Stann is in for a long night. Sonnen is going to look to take Stann down and dominate him on the ground where he is weakest. Stann is going to want to keep the fight standing, which is where he has the best shot to win, but I don’t see him being able to get the job done there. Sonnen survived Anderson Silva for nearly five rounds and if he can survive that, I think he can survive a fight with Stann for three rounds. Pick: Sonnen via Decision.
RICHARD MANN: Sonnen should be the clear favorite in this fight. He should be able to get takedowns and grind out a decision. With that being said submissions will always be a problem for Sonnen. After staring at FightMetric.com, I discovered that during his WEC/UFC career Sonnen has never won a fight in which his opponent has attempted three submissions. Stann is not exactly Roger Gracie on the ground, but he can still throw up a triangle. Sonnen by decision.
GARY THOMAS: Brian Stann the hero vs Chael Sonnen the heel. Stann finishes Sonnen in this fight by submission.
BRIAN FURBY: Brian Stann.
JACK BRATCHER: I like Chael Sonnen but I think Brian Stann’s progression as a fighter is going to become even more evident in this fight. If he can stuff Sonnen’s takedowns, Stann is going to have a pretty good advantage on the feet. And that is what I predict will happen. Stann connects with punches, hurts Sonnen and finishes him off via TKO first or second round.
Melvin Guillard (46-9-3, 1NC) vs. Joe Lauzon (20-6)
Odds: Guillard -450, Lauzon +325
DENNY HODGE: Guillard is poised for greatness, and with a big win here, will likely be on the short list for a title shot sometime in the near future. Lauzon is a tough kid, but he really doesn’t have anything for Guillard. Lauzon HAS to get this fight to the mat, but it’s going to be a dangerous proposition wading in range of Guillard. Guillard by TKO.
KELVIN HUNT: The only way Guillard loses this fight is if he beats himself and does something dumb like shooting for a takedown in his fight with Nate Diaz. Guillard should be able to keep it standing and take Lauzon’s head off. Guillard via TKO.
JOSH CROSS: I think Lauzon’s best chance to win this fight is to take Guillard to the mat as soon as physically possible. Guillard has shown in his last two fights that his hands and his knees are extremely vicious and Lauzon will want to avoid both at all costs. If Lauzon can get the fight to the mat I think he’ll be able to win, but Guillard has shown some really good takedown defense in the past. I think Guillard will be able to avoid Lauzon’s takedown attempts thus keeping the fight standing, which I think will be what ultimately determine the outcome of this match. Pick: Guillard via TKO.
RICHARD MANN: Some have claimed that I am a Skip Bayless level hater of Guillard. That is perhaps true, but he is still in line for a victory here. In his recent performances, Lauzon has been lost on the feet and even struggled to take down the likes of Sam Stout. Guillard should have very little trouble using his wrestling in reverse and finishing the fight. Guillard by TKO.
GARY THOMAS: In the most stacked division of the UFC this fight is huge! Melvin is on a tear and I do not want to be the other guy. Lauzon is tough but loses this fight, Guillard by KO.
BRIAN FURBY: Joe Lauzon.
JACK BRATCHER: Guillard has looked nearly unstoppable as of late. Lauzon can be a very explosive grappler and we have seen Guillard fall prey to submissions. A year ago I would have said Lauzon wins this fight in round one by a quick rear naked choke, but I think Guillard has stepped up his training and training with the guys at Imperial probably helped his grappling a lot. Guillard via first or second round TKO.
Nam Phan (16-10) Leonard Garcia (19-7-1)
Odds: Phan -240, Garcia +190
DENNY HODGE: Garcia usually gets favored by the judges just by the sheer amount of wild punches that he throws. He seems to score on the cards even when he’s not landing…. He is exciting for sure, but Phan should have won the first time, and he will win this time. Phan by decision.
KELVIN HUNT: Phan got robbed the first time about. Phan via decision.
JOSH CROSS: I can see this fight playing out very similar to their last fight at the Ultimate Fighter 12 Finale this past December. I expect Garcia to still attack wildly like he’s known for while Phan takes a more calculated approach. I think Phan will let Garcia punch himself to exhaustion and then he’ll take advantage of his tired opponent. Like I said, I can see this fight being much like their first encounter, but I think the outcome will be different. Pick: Phan via Decision.
RICHARD MANN: Pretty much everyone can agree that Phan deserved the win the first time these two tangled. On top of that, “Bad Boy” got blitzed the last time he rematched a fighter he beat via controversial decision. Phan is the more accurate striker on the feet and that should be the story of this fight. However, Garcia does always find a way to impress the judges. Phan by decision.
GARY THOMAS: Don’t let the mediocre records fool you, this fight has war written on it. After Phan’s robbery in the first fight look for him to get in the “W” column. It will be a three round decision with Phan coming out on top.
BRIAN FURBY: Nam Phan.
JACK BRATCHER: Everyone is picking Phan on this one and I have to go with him as well. Phan seems to be the better all around fighter, but if he loses this fight is probably out of a job. Leonard has been in some exciting battles over the years but I think sometimes may get caught up in trying to make fights exciting as opposed to winning. Should be a good back and forth affair with Phan winning a decision.