Thursday, August 26, 2010

Why Maynard vs. Florian Will Be the Fight to See

UFC lightweights Kenny Florian and Gray Maynard will meet in the Octagon at UFC 118 this Saturday to determine top contention in the UFC lightweight division. The winner will probably meet the winner of the BJ Penn vs. Frankie Edgar rematch also taking place at UFC 118.

Fans should expect nothing less than a highly skilled bloodbath out of this match. Here's why:

The style match-up is perfect. Maynard is a bully. Florian is a technician. Even as you read I'm sure Kenny Florian is watching Maynard's fight films, which he is known to do, and Maynard is drilling takedowns until his knees bleed. This match will surely epitomize the classic wrestling vs. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu pairing that has molded the UFC.

Maynard is technically undefeated (if you don't count the funny but controversial Emerson-Maynard double knockout in which Gray knocked himself out). His chance at a title is well overdue, especially since he defeated Frankie Edgar over a year ago. So, Gray will come out with guns blazing from the first bell, looking to end the match quick because he's really looking right past Florian, with his eyes set on a title shot.

I imagine Kenny Florian will be cageside rooting for Frankie Edgar during his lightweight title defense against BJ Penn. Florian endured an embarrassing submission via RNC loss to former champ BJ Penn last year, and sees Maynard as another obstacle on his path to redemption.

The Edge: both fighters are grinders. Of Florian's four losses only two ended early (against Sherk and Penn). As for Maynard, his only early-ender came via knock-yourself-out with a headfirst double leg, but he's only recorded one early win (KO over Joe Veres). They both like to go the distance, and have the gas to all the way.

The Key: For Florian, he'll want to use those elbows. This will be his warning to Maynard not to come inside his strike zone. It might also be a good idea to use some of those kicks we've seen him use. Kenny's low kick has progressively improved. If Gray takes it to the mat, Florian should immediately lock up the full guard to stop the guard pass.

Gray Maynard should employ the same strategy that worked for Sean Sherk -- get the takedown, and move to pass guard for side control or full mount. Once dominant positioning has been established Maynard should work his ground-and-pound game. As long as he looks out for KenFlo's elbow's from bottom, but he'll have to cover up Florian and smother him as much as possible. Kenny always comes in with excellent conditioning so in order to finish this match early Gray will have to look for openings.

The Bottomline: Maynard + Florian = barn burner!!!

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