The UFC has released the official lineup (thus far) for UFC 118 on August 28th, and it includes the controversial bout between Heavyweight Boxing champion James Toney and former UFC Heavyweight and Light Heavyweight champion Randy Couture.
The fight will appear on the undercard of the event, which is still scheduled to to be headlined by the rematch between BJ Penn and UFC Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar after Edgar’s close decision win that won him the title back in April.
On paper, this is arguably the strongest card the UFC has put on in all of 2010.
The full card, thus far:
Main Televised Bouts
FRANKIE EDGAR (c) vs. B.J. PENN for the UFC Lightweight Title
RANDY COUTURE vs. JAMES TONEY
NATE MARQUARDT vs. ROUSIMAR PALHARES
KENNY FLORIAN vs. GRAY MAYNARD
JORGE RIVERA vs. ALESSIO SAKARA
TERRY ETIM vs. JOE LAUZON
NIK LENTZ vs. ANDRE WINNER
NICK OSIPCZAK vs. GREG SOTO
AMILCAR ALVES vs. MIKE PIERCE
Rumored but not yet official – PHIL BARONI vs. JOHN SALTER (would be a prelim); MARCUS DAVIS vs. NATE DIAZ
The Davis/Diaz fight is held up pending the Tennessee Athletic Commission’s decision regarding Nate Diaz’s involvement in the post-fight brawl at the last CBS Strikeforce card. He could be suspended for upwards of nine months, which would make him ineligible to fight.
The winner of Florian/Maynard will face the winner of Penn/Edgar at the end of the year for the title.
It’s thought that Vitor Belfort will be healed in time to get a Middleweight Title Shot after Sonnen/Anderson. But in case he isn’t (a strong possibility with a fighter like Belfort that has a lot of mileage on him), a win by Nate Marquardt would put him in line for a title shot.
The big news and draw going into the card, of course, will be Toney/Couture. It will almost assuredly be portrayed and marketed as a boxing vs. MMA bout, even though it’s a sticky situation for a sport that wants to be taken seriously to be doing a gimmick match. Especially tricky will be the delicate balancing act between Dana White’s frequent accusations of StrikeForce doing freakshow fights when he has a boxer north of 40 whose place in boxing history is questionable competing against one of the most heralded and experienced MMA fighters in history. It has the potential to make a lot of money for the UFC, but it also has the potential to backfire and, depending on how the fight goes, be portrayed in the mainstream media as a cartoonish spectacle that has no place on a legitimate fight card.
UFC 118 will emanate from the TD Garden in Boston, MA and will include another two-day UFC Fan Expo.