Yves Edwards | Peter Lockley/Sherdog.com
The UFC “Fight for the Troops 2” undercard on Saturday at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas, features my favorite kind of match: the compelling young prospect against the hard-nosed, seen-it-all veteran. I could probably watch fights like Cody McKenzie-Yves Edwards all day, as they seem to carry their own inimitable blend of drama, with the prospect trying to prove he can hang at the next level and the “old” guy battling to prove he is still relevant.
All that and more follows. Press on for the breakdowns and picks.
Yves Edwards vs. Cody McKenzie
The Matchup: Fresh off yet another impressive guillotine submission win at “The Ultimate Fighter 12” Finale on Dec. 4, McKenzie gets a major opportunity here. Edwards has probably forgotten more of his fights than the average lightweight has had. A staple of the UFC’s early 2000s era, Edwards is one of those old-school martial artists that can do everything well.
While officially unbeaten, McKenzie’s elimination against Nam Phan on Season 12 of “The Ultimate Fighter” exposed holes in his game that he will have to close in order to compete at the next level. While contestants on the Spike TV reality show tend to improve dramatically after their appearances, McKenzie has a lot to work on outside of his amazing penchant for the guillotine. His striking appears rudimentary at best, and he seemed to come apart against Phan, who peeled him like an onion.
Edwards may not be a wrestling-based fighter, but he should be able to stave off McKenzie’s initial takedown attempts. At 34, he has solid striking and mixes up his blows well, picking angles and playing the correct percentages. McKenzie’s upside and Edwards’ mileage make for an interesting dynamic. However, at this point, Edwards has shown no real signs of deterioration. He has fought some tough guys in recent years and has, for the most part, remained competitive.
The key factor here is whether or not McKenzie can get enough respect standing if he cannot secure a takedown. That’s a ton of improvement to expect against a sharp strike like Edwards, who is doubly tough to beat when he has only one element about which to worry. Plus, Edwards is an outstanding submission guy himself and difficult to tap out. In fact, he has not been submitted in nearly five years.
The Pick: Look for Edwards to play the role of spoiler veteran, lighting up McKenzie with strikes and scoring a knockout in the third round.
Continue Reading » Next Fight: Johnson vs. Guymon