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UFC 118 came and went with a wimper

I’m still wrapping my brain around Chael Sonnen’s FightMetrically dominant near-win against Anderson Silva (and Silva’s Hail Mary triangle-armbar combo and subsequent injury excuses and poor winner attitude and general suckitude), so I’m a little slow tapping out my thoughts on the much more recent UFC 118. In fact, I’m more interested in the Silva/Sonnen rematch, which would make for a sweet year-ending main event.

Still, UFC 118 did produce a few topics worthy of discussion. One of them is not James Toney. His submission loss to Randy Couture was entirely expected, as was his card-topping $500,000 payday. That might seem grossly unfair given lightweight champ Frankie Edgar pocketed 1/5 that amount for defending his belt in dominating fashion against former champ BJ Penn, whom many people expected to steamroll over Edgar to reclaim the title.

But unlike in professional sports like baseball and basketball, where salaries are commensurate with results (i.e. the better you play, the better you’re paid), MMA is as much about who brings in the eyeballs. And Toney certainly does that, attracting MMA fans out to see a pro boxer get beaten, boxing fans out to see their sport proven superior, and everybody else attracted to the sideshow of it all. Obviously, the UFC and president Dana White believe Toney was worth the cash so who are we to complain?

As for the future, expect Toney to find work in some other sideshow and Couture, well, he might have one last title run in him, but I expect he’ll retire before he actually has a bout for the belt. Consider him a gatekeeper at best, with a potential meeting with the winner of Lyoto Machida and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson down the road.

Now back to Edgar, who looked positively brilliant against Penn, a moving target the likes of which has rarely been seen inside the octagon, like Machida with more spring. Of course, Penn certainly helped make Edgar look good by appearing slow and out-of-step, a glazed look in his eyes like he was trying to solve long equations in his head. It didn’t help that his corner kept telling Penn not to worry about Edgar’s speed or quickness, the peppering punches or the takedowns. Penn has rarely looked this badly before (the second time against Georges St. Pierre and the first time against Edgar both come to mind).

While Edgar next faces Gray Maynard, whose wrestling made former contender Kenny Florian look like a choke artist, Penn has to consider whether he really wants to fight any more. He doesn’t have the heart that Edgar does and he can no longer get by on natural ability, that’s certain, and rumours of a move back up to welterweight is pure folly. With Georges St. Pierre as the king of that particular castle, this dirty rascal is best advised to stay put and assemble a new team around himself, one that can help him get the job done and not blow smoke up his ass. And I wouldn’t mind seeing him in a rematch with the re-ignited Fireball Kid, Takanori Gomi, who knocked out Tyson Griffin his last at bat. It would be a chance for the PRIDE star to even the score with Penn and provides built-in drama.

Okay, the other fight that makes me wonder – what to do with Demian Maia? A unanimous decision over unheralded late entry Mario Miranda feels like a loss. It just does. And I have a sneaking suspicion that without a spectacular performance in his next bout that he may go the way of Thales Leites.

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