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Armchair Matchmaker: UFC 118 Edition

Frank Edgar BJ Penn UFC 118 photos MMA
(There he goes again, trying to steal the victory. Photo courtesy of CageWriter)

Here’s what we know: Frank Edgar will make his next title defense against Gray Maynard, who routed Kenny Florian on Saturday night. Dana White is done with James Toney, even though James Toney might not be done with MMA. Nick Osipczak, John Salter, and Gabe Ruediger could very well be receiving "Dear John" letters from the UFC as we speak. As for UFC 118‘s other winners and losers, their fates are yet to be decided. But as usual, we have a few opinions on the subject…

BJ Penn: The Prodigy spent 2007-2009 destroying all the top talent in the UFC’s lightweight division, then looked completely uninspired in two consecutive fights against Frankie Edgar. Either Penn has fallen off his game dramatically or Edgar is just a terrible style matchup for him — and we won’t really know the answer until Penn’s next fight. What’s obvious is that lightweight has been Penn’s most effective weight class in general, and going back up to 170 would be a terrible idea, especially while Georges St. Pierre still rules the roost. The UFC should give Penn a rebound fight against a name opponent who’s a little further down the ladder, but will test BJ’s desire to fight. That’s right, folks, it’s time for BJ Penn vs. Takanori Gomi II. Gomi is born-again after starching Tyson Griffin; add in Gomi’s history with Penn, and you have a co-headliner that any pay-per-view card would be lucky to have.


Caption Contest: Win a Copy of ‘Beatdown’ on DVD or Blu-Ray!


We’ve been waiting patiently since last winter, and the moment is finally upon us: Beatdown, starring Rudy Youngblood, master thespian Michael Bisping, Bobby Lashley, Heath Herring, Mike Swick, Eric Balfour, and Danny Trejo, will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray tomorrow. Check the synopsis:

Brandon, a respected street fighter, is forced to flee the city after his brother is murdered and the money that was supposed to be paid back to a local gangster is stolen. While lying low at his father’s house in a small Southern town, Brandon soon gets involved in the local underground cage-fighting circuit. With the help of Drake Colby, a former MMA champion, Brandon devises a scheme to bring a massive payday, if they are able to survive.

We have eight copies of the flick to give away, in two separate caption contests. If you want one, check out the gnarly UFC 118-related pic after the jump and follow our instructions…


Self-Described Former ‘Douchebag’ Marcus Davis is Wicked Pumped to Return to Boston’s Garden

(Like "Good Will Hunting," without the smart one. PicProps: CombatLifestyle.)

Given the location of this weekend’s card and the company’s insistence on promoting the co-main event as a “UFC vs. boxing,” spectacle it’s a bit surprising we haven’t heard more from Marcus Davis leading up to UFC 118. Davis after all is a former professional pugilist who made the transition to MMA long before James Toney began mastering the art of the “side check kick.” But maybe because he’s just 3-3 in his last six fights and his upcoming bout with Nate Diaz is scheduled to be first on Saturday’s PPV card, the “Irish Hand Grenade” hasn’t grabbed many headlines as the Octagon prepares to storm Beantown.

Davis did however sit down for an equal parts funny and scary interview with MMA Junkie this week. In it, he discusses how he made his bones in the hardscrabble world of the small-time Boston boxing scene in the late ’90s and basically makes his life sound like the plot of an unproduced Sylvester Stallone movie. You know, back before Sylvester Stallone movies were just a collection of one-liners tied loosely together by scenes of shit blowing up.


Marcus Davis vs. Nate Diaz Slated for UFC 118 in Boston

Marcus Davis UFC
(Marcus awoke in a strange room with red carpet and red furniture, naked women on the walls. Was he still dreaming? Just then, a midget entered and began to dance. / Photo courtesy of CombatLifestyle.)

We may have supported the idea of a Boston vs. New York rivalry-match between Marcus Davis and Phil Baroni at UFC 118, but this could work out even better. According to multiple sources, Davis has verbally agreed to take on Nate Diaz at the August 28th event in Boston. The Irish Hand Grenade saved his job last weekend at UFC 113 with his second-round TKO of Jonathan Goulet (who has been fired again, by the way). Meanwhile, Diaz is coming off his whipping of Rory Markham in his welterweight debut at UFC 111, which followed a 1-3 stretch at lightweight. There might be one hitch in the plan, however — Diaz’s involvement in last month’s brawl at Strikeforce: Nashville. As MMA Junkie writes: 

Six people who participated in the CBS-televised brawl await possible suspension and/or fines from the Tennessee Athletic Commission, though their names have yet to be officially released. A commission meeting scheduled for Thursday in Nashville was delayed by massive flooding that’s submerged much of the city’s downtown area. The meeting tentatively has been rescheduled for May 27. If Diaz is held responsible for his part in the brawl, the TAC could fine him up to $250,000, though he could appeal the fine and delay its enactment.

UFC 118 will be headlined by Penn vs. Edgar II, and will very likely feature James Toney’s UFC debut against Randy Couture; Kenny Florian vs. Gray Maynard is also expected for the card.


Armchair Matchmaker: UFC 113 Edition

Lyoto Machida UFC 113 eye swollen
("Holy crap. Do my eyebrows really look like that?")

So here’s what we know: Josh Koscheck will be playing the fraggle-haired heel in Georges St. Pierre’s next title defense. Kimbo and Semtex are dunzo. Mauricio Rua’s next opponent will be determined by UFC 114′s Rampage vs. Rashad feature. Matt Mitrione and Joey Beltran could face each other at UFC 117 in August, which sounds about right. As for the rest of last weekend’s winners and losers, their fates are still to be determined. Not saying you need any help, Joe Silva, but if things are piling up at UFC headquarters, allow us to offer a few suggestions…

Lyoto Machida: If Antonio Rogerio Nogueira can get through Jason Brilz later this month, Machida vs. Lil’ Nog is the fight that makes sense. A win for Machida would be a perfect rebound against a dangerous, highly-regarded striker, while a win for Minotoro would convince fans that he’s a title threat worth caring about. Even though they’re both members of the Black House collective, Machida hasn’t ruled the match out.

Alan Belcher: He wants Anderson Silva. Isn’t that precious! Still, there’s no denying that Belcher is a rising star with some great recent wins under his belt. My first instinct would be to put him against Michael Bisping if the Count is victorious against Dan Miller at UFC 114. But there’s something just a little too obvious about that. If Belcher can handle Anderson Silva, surely he’d have no problem with Demian Maia, right? Tremendous upside for Belcher, and a good tune-up for Maia, who needs to re-locate his formerly fearsome jiu-jitsu.


Jonathan Goulet Had to Choke a B*tch Out

(It looks like Tito isn’t the only UFC fighter who keeps his pimp hand strong.)

I don’t know if it was due to boredom from hearing the the same old answers and cliche quotes regurgitated back to me by fighters, but a while back I began asking interview subjects strange arbitrary questions and have been paid back in kind with strange arbitrary answers.

Some notable anecdotes I’ve been told:

– No matter if he’s at home, on a bus, on a plane or on a train, Pat Barry can only fall asleep while wearing a pillow case tied around his head.

– Eric "Red" Schafer has a stalker in his hometown in Wisconsin. He is male and likes to break into his car and sniff his shoes and gym clothes.

– Jason MacDonald was originally slated to be on TUF 3, but was beaten by Kalib Starnes at an event in British Columbia just before the final selections were made for the show and was replaced by "The Running Man" that season.


A Slightly Repentant Marcus Davis Ponders How Best to Plot Dan Hardy’s Demise

(I don’t know Marcus, I thought some of those photos were quite fetching.)

Marcus Davis has deleted his Twitter remark wishing Dan Hardy death via AIDS, and attempted to explain away the “Dark&Bad taste” comment by pointing out that Hardy was at least partially responsible for some unflattering photoshops of him. To what extent Hardy is to blame for the exact homosexual nature of those efforts is debatable, but what seems pretty clear is that, at least in Davis’s mind, those were worse than wishing death upon someone. Just when you think he might have realized that it’s a bad idea to get into this sort of thing at all, he follows it up by tweeting, “Would it have been better if I said hit by a car?”

When you really think about it, that’s a tough one. Getting hit by a car doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing as being killed by a car, so there’s that. But if we assume that Davis would also wish for Hardy to die of his injuries, what then? At least someone who gets AIDS has a chance to say goodbye to their family and gain a new perspective on the circle of life and other such bullshit before they pass. The person killed by a speeding Audi doesn’t ever get the opportunity to set his past wrongs right. Then again, he also doesn’t have to suffer in hospital rooms or get all weak and lesion-y like Tom Hanks in "Philadelphia."

And thus has a man nicknamed “The Irish Hand Grenade” plunged us into a philosophical quandary with a couple of garbled sentences. Really makes you wonder what Jean-Paul Sartre could have accomplished if he had lived to Twitter.


Marcus Davis Learned Nothing From the Frank Mir Death Threat Controversy

Marcus Davis twitter message

Yeah, that’s Marcus Davis on Twitter, publicly stating that he hopes Dan Hardy dies of AIDS.  And yes, it does appear to be his official Twitter account and not a fake.  He has over 10,000 followers, links to his official website, mentions biographically correct information about himself from time to time, misspells a few words but not so many that it could be an attempt at humor, and for the most part remains just as tedious as most MMA fighters on Twitter.  In other words, if it’s a fake the guy has been playing it really cool up until now.  If that was all a ruse just to make this one AIDS comment and blow his cover, we’re going to have to say that he just wasted a lot of time.

The comment was made in response to a fan (BIGfield948, who we assume is still pissed that Bigfield69 was taken) after he expressed a desire to see Davis/Hardy II in the U.K.  The missive you see above is Davis’s response, so it’s not as if this was taken somehow out of context.  The question is, if we accept that this is really Marcus Davis and he really did say that he hopes Hardy dies of AIDS, what conclusions can we jump to in an irresponsible, reactionary fashion?


Martin Kampmann vs. Ben Saunders Expected for UFC 111 + More Booking News

Marcus Davis Ben Saunders UFC MMA
(Ben Saunders’s clinch: Not where you want to be. Photo courtesy of ESPN.)

According to MMA Weekly, welterweight contenders Martin Kampmann and Ben Saunders have agreed to meet at UFC 111 (March 27th, Newark). Both fighters recently bounced back to the win column after suffering knockouts in previous fights: Kampmann scored a first-round submission over Jacob Volkmann earlier this month after getting smoked by Paul Daley at UFC 103, while Saunders is coming off his first-round knockout of Marcus Davis at UFC 106, after being on the wrong end of a TKO against Mike Swick in June. UFC 111 will be headlined by the championship doubleheader of Georges St. Pierre vs. Dan Hardy and Frank Mir vs. Shane Carwin. In other UFC fight-booking news…

— Speaking of Marcus Davis, the Irish Hand Grenade will look to snap his two-fight losing streak at UFC 113 (May 1st, Montreal) against Canadian welterweight Jonathan Goulet, who returns to the Octagon for the first time since his 33-second knockout loss to Mike Swick at Fight for the Troops in December 2008.


Slugfest Alert: Baroni vs. Davis Reported for UFC 111 [UPDATED]

Phil Baroni MMA

What do you do when you have two guys who can’t win big fights but who always put on entertaining matches? Throw ‘em in a cage together and hope for a Fight of the Night, obviously. According to MMA Mania, Phil Baroni and Marcus Davis have verbally agreed to whip the New Jersey crowd into a frenzy at UFC 111 (March 27th, Newark), supporting a card that will feature Georges St. Pierre vs. Dan Hardy and (hopefully) Frank Mir vs. Shane Carwin.

After nearly five years away from the UFC, Phil Baroni returned to the Octagon at UFC 106 last month to take on TUF 7 winner Amir Sadollah. Baroni came out strong in the first round, but his familiar struggles with cardio cursed him once again, and Sadollah dominated the last two rounds en route to a unanimous decision. Marcus Davis is currently on a two-fight losing streak, dropping matches to Dan Hardy (via split-decision at UFC 99) and Ben Saunders (via Thai clinch execution at UFC 106).

As a more well-rounded fighter with a much better gas tank, Davis should be a strong favorite to win this one. The question is, will Baroni be cut after losing another match, or will the UFC keep him around a while longer for their further amusement?

Update: Baroni tells MMA Weekly that he has not agreed to the fight, and may take a longer hiatus to re-evaluate his training methods.