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UFC 136: A look at the rapidly approaching mega-card

Two championship fights slated for Houston event, including Edgar vs. Maynard III

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Justin M. Bowen

Lightweight champion Frankie Edgar (left) and contender Gray Maynard face off during the UFC 125 pre-fight press conference Wednesday, December 29, 2010 at MGM Grand.

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UFC lightweights everywhere are rejoicing, for the long-delayed third meeting between Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard is less than two weeks away.

Edgar and Maynard have put the 155-pound division in a standstill for the last 13 months. After Maynard earned his shot at Edgar’s title in August 2010, the two fought to a draw at UFC 125 in January.

Injuries postponed a scheduled third meeting between the two in May. The UFC re-booked the championship bout as the UFC 136 main event on Oct. 8 in Houston.

“We’ve been in there two times already,” Edgar said at a press conference to announce the event last month. “There are really not many secrets. We’ve seen what each other has. I’m preparing for it.”

Maynard (10-0-1 MMA, 8-0-1 UFC) is responsible for both of the hiccups on Edgar’s (13-1-1 MMA, 8-1-1 UFC) record. In addition to the draw, Maynard defeated Edgar by unanimous decision three years ago at UFC Fight Night 13.

The Las Vegas-based fighter doesn’t believe he lost the UFC 125 bout and promises retribution in Houston.

“It’s pretty much up to him if it goes five rounds or ends early,” Maynard said. “I’m walking away with the belt, so it’s up to him if he wants a full fight or not.”

It’s fitting that a fight with as much hype as Edgar vs. Maynard will headline UFC 136. The event is one of the two biggest of the year for the UFC, as evidenced by its coinciding fan expo and two championship fights.

The featherweight belt is also on the line at UFC 136 as Jose Aldo (19-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC) takes on Kenny Florian (15-5 MMA, 12-4 UFC). Aldo has taken out a bundle of top 145-pound fighters, but has never faced anyone like Florian.

Florian was one of the top lightweights in the world before dropping to featherweight when the UFC implemented the division at the beginning of the year.

It’s the third title fight of Florian’s career after he came short in two opportunities at lightweight and also lost a No. 1 contenders bout to Maynard last year.

“That’s what every fighter is here to do — fight for the title and I’m glad I have that opportunity,” Florian said.

Check below for a rundown of the rest of the fights on the UFC 136 card.

Middleweight Bout: Chael Sonnen (26-10-1 MMA, 5-3 UFC) vs. Brian Stann (11-3 MMA, 5-1 UFC) Two of the best 185-pound fighters in the world scrap for a shot UFC middleweight champion and pound-for-pound king Anderson Silva.

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Brian Stann and Jorge Santiago trade punches during their fight at UFC 130 Saturday, May 28, 2011 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Stann won by TKO.

Heavyweight Bout: Mike Russow (14-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) vs. Dave Herman (21-2 MMA, 2-0 UFC) A battle between two promising prospects with the winner likely to receive a serious jump in competition.

Lightweight Bout: Melvin Guillard (28-8-2 MMA, 10-4 UFC) vs. Joe Lauzon (20-6 MMA, 7-3 UFC) UFC President Dana White says Guillard, winner of five straight, is likely in line for the next lightweight title shot provided he beats Lauzon.

Middleweight Bout: Demian Maia (14-3 MMA, 8-3 UFC) vs. Jorge Santiago (23-9 MMA, 1-3 UFC) A Brazilian jiu-jitsu match could break out as both of these men hold black belts in the discipline.

Lightweight Bout: Anthony Pettis (13-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) vs. Jeremy Stephens (20-6 MMA, 7-5 UFC) Two of the more exciting 155-pound strikers match up here with Pettis having a speed edge and Stephens possessing more power.

Heavyweight Bout: Joey Beltran (13-5 MMA, 3-2 UFC) vs. Stipe Miocic (6-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) Beltran outlasted Aaron Rosa for a third round TKO in a battle at UFC 131, while Miocic has finished all of his opponents within seven minutes.

Featherweight Bout: Tiequan Zhang (18-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC) vs. Darren Elkins (12-2 MMA, 2-1 UFC) Elkins is a wrestler, but must be careful trying to take down someone with as savvy submission chops as Zhang.

Featherweight Bout: Leonard Garcia (15-7 MMA, 2-3 UFC) vs. Nam Phan (16-9 MMA, 0-2 UFC) A rematch of the highly controversial “The Ultimate Fighter” 12 finale bout that saw Phan dictate the action and Garcia leave with a decision victory.

Middleweight Bout: Aaron Simpson (9-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) vs. Eric Schafer (12-5-2 MMA, 3-4 UFC) Simpson has quietly gone 2-0 this year in the UFC with wins against Brad Tavares and Mario Miranda, while Schafer gets a third chance in the organization.

Middleweight Bout: Steve Cantwell (7-4 MMA, 1-3 UFC) vs. Mike Massenzio (12-5 MMA, 1-3 UFC) The Las Vegas-based Cantwell, who dropped from light heavyweight for this bout, gets one more chance to salvage his UFC career after a three-fight losing streak.

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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