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BOSTON – Frank Edgar outpunched, outwrestled and outfought B.J. Penn, claiming a unanimous decision over the ex-champion to retain his lightweight title in the main event of UFC 118 at TD Garden.
All three judges scored it 50-45 for Edgar, who pulled out a highly controversial decision over Penn in April at UFC 112 to win the title. The controversy that surrounded the result the first time forced Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White to order the rematch.
This time around, there was no controversy as Edgar was better in every area.
"Frankie fought a great fight," Penn said. "He's the man. I have nothing bad to say."
Edgar's movement seemed to confound Penn, who was never able to get his hands off in either fight. Edgar was constantly circling and moving in both fights, though on Saturday he mixed in several takedowns.
Edgar, who will likely defend his belt next against Gray Maynard – the only man to beat him – pushed the pace and Penn couldn't compete.
"B.J. brought the best out of me," Edgar said. "I've been training for this guy for eight months."
Maynard grounded out a unanimous decision victory over hometown hero Kenny Florian in a lightweight elimination bout, earning a shot at Edgar's title with a clear but dull decision.
Florian circled much of the fight and never closed the distance, doing little offensively. Maynard had several takedowns and landed some shots on the ground that closed Florian's left eye.
"I'm very disappointed," Florian said. "I really worked on my wrestling. I wasn't successful there and that was the difference. I expected him to try and take me down near the ends of the rounds. I wasn't able to stop it. It was really frustrating. He wasn't engaging, he wasn't engaging [and] I chased him and that opened me up to the takedown."
Demian Maia got a bit of revenge on UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva, outworking Mario Miranda and scoring a unanimous decision over Silva's training partner.
Maia, who lost a title bid to Silva at UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, had the edge in all areas vs. Miranda and worked several submissions. All three judges had it 30-27 for Maia.
Nathan Diaz opened a nasty cut over Marcus Davis' right eye early in the first round, opened another cut later in the fight and then submitted Davis with a D'Arce choke in the third round.
Diaz's reach was too much for Davis, a former professional boxer who was unable to get inside. The cuts around his eye were bleeding profusely and by the middle of the second round, it was closed and grotesquely swollen.
"I wanted to stand with him coming in because I knew I had the reach," Diaz said. "He definitely clocked me in the first round, but I was able to recover. I was able to work my jab and use my reach to connect with his eye."
Joe Lauzon, a Boston resident, brought the loud house down when he dominated Gabe Ruediger in the final bout on the preliminary card. Lauzon slammed Ruediger to the canvas, transitioned into an arm bar and forced the submission at 2:01.
"The crowd was unbelievable tonight," Lauzon said. "I love the crowd. I love Boston. I was definitely feeding off that energy. [Gabe] is the first black belt I've submitted in competition, so that made the win that much bigger for me.
"An important rule in jiu-jitsu is to keep your arms tight in and I haven't been making people pay for leaving them out. I feel I've been doing a better job lately."
Nik Lentz grounded out a unanimous decision win over Andre Winner in what essentially was a grappling contest. Judges had it 30-27 twice and 29-28 for Lentz. The crowd was angry with the lack of action and booed lustily throughout the match.
John Salter was doing a good job of winning the war on the feet and outstriking Dan Miller, a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Miller, though, managed to pull out a dramatic win, quickly catching Salter in an anaconda choke.
Salter quickly tapped at 1:53 of the second and Miller had the victory, ending a three-fight losing streak.
"I'm so happy I got this win," Miller said. "I needed it. I felt like if I got another loss, I would be cut. I felt like I wasn't able to finish right away, but I adjusted the choke and just squeezed until I got the tap."
Greg Soto had to argue with a ringside physician just to make it into the second round, but when he convinced the doctor to let the fight go on despite a cut on his left eye, he dominated the remainder of the fight.
Soto took Nick Osipczak down and beat him up on the ground over the last two rounds, winning a unanimous decision. All three judges scored it 29-28, as did Yahoo! Sports.
Soto was cut by an elbow from Osipczak in the first, but Osipczak did little after the opening round. Soto, sensing the urgency after he had to argue with the doctor in the corner after the first round, picked up the pace and dominated the final 10 minutes.
"I had been cut there before and I knew it wasn't going to take much to get it going again," Soto said of the cut. "So I anticipated that. The doctor asked me if I could see and I said, 'Yes, I can.' They were just checking me out."
In the opening bout, Mike Pierce slapped a Kimura on Amilcar Alves at 3:11 of the third round following several attempts. Pierce used his wrestling to control Alves in the first two rounds, taking Alves down repeatedly and working from guard.
In the final round, Pierce managed to flatten Alves and move into a Kimura, forcing the submission.
"I went for the submission earlier but couldn't get it," Pierce said. "I knew my wrestling and jiu-jitsu was better than his Muay Thai, so I wanted to take him down. His arm was slippery, but as soon as I got the lock in place, I knew I had him.
"I've been wanting to get my first UFC finish for a long time. This is a new chapter in my career. I now know I can finish on the biggest stage, the UFC."