Frankie Edgar survived a harrowing first round at UFC 125. | Photo: (AP Photo/Eric Jamison)
When Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard fought for a second time on New Year’s Day, few expected the memorable and controversial war that transpired. UFC 125 was devastated by injuries, leading to relatively little pre-fight buzz, and the event drew the lowest buy rate for a domestic Ultimate Fighting Championship pay-per-view event since 2005. However, those who tuned in were witness to a remarkable show of heart from Edgar, a closely contested five-round match and a hotly disputed judges’ decision. It set up Edgar-Maynard 3, a fight that will have a lot to live up to this Saturday as the UFC 136 main event in Houston.
Ahead of the final chapter in this lightweight trilogy, Sherdog.com relives the magic that was Edgar-Maynard 2:
Edgar and Maynard entered their second fight with the memory of their first encounter close in mind. As such, the fight began with a tentative feeling-out process. Each man threw a few jabs, with Edgar also mixing in leg kicks. Edgar utilized greater head movement, while Maynard stood in an upright stance with a higher center of gravity. Maynard’s two-inch height advantage and two-inch reach advantage were more noticeable given his posture.
The fight turned at 3:43, when a hard Maynard left hook knocked Edgar to the ground. It was the same shot the Xtreme Couture Mixed Martial Arts representative used to knock out Joe Veres in his only UFC finish. Edgar tumbled back and then rolled backwards to regain his footing, much like Heath Herring had done against Brock Lesnar at UFC 87 in 2008.
Maynard charged Edgar, and the champion proceeded to back up all the way to the other side of the Octagon. Maynard pursued with three right hooks and a right uppercut. The uppercut came as Edgar was shooting for a takedown, giving the superficial appearance that he was hit harder than he was. Still, with Edgar’s takedown easily stuffed, Maynard threw 10 punches in rapid succession to the side of his foe’s head. Edgar pulled out and returned to his feet, which proved to be a mistake.
Back on the feet, Maynard landed a pair of vicious right uppercuts. The first one was significant, but the second, at 3:31, landed harder than even the left hook that started Edgar’s troubles. Edgar fell backwards hard and was blasted with additional punches from behind as he tried to rise. Edgar could not regain his footing enough to stand and fell back to the canvas. By this point, referee Yves Lavigne moved in very close, examining whether Edgar could continue.
Edgar tried to stand again but once more went down. Maynard again took advantage of a grounded opponent by throwing eight left punches to the side of his head. Edgar’s third attempt to stand was thwarted, as well, with Maynard pulling him back to the ground. Edgar reached for a single-leg but could not secure it and finally backed away and stood.
Standing awkwardly, it was evident Edgar was still in big trouble. He threw his first punch since being rocked, a little right counter, but Maynard connected with a powerful right hook and Edgar shot for a takedown. Maynard sprawled to block it, and the wobbly champion was forced to return to his feet. Maynard connected with a left hook and an uppercut, followed by a heavy right hook that was the third decisive strike of the round. Edgar tumbled back to the mat and, this time, rolled over on his side.
Maynard ran in to try to finish again but was immediately slowed by an Edgar takedown attempt. Edgar just did not have the energy to push through, and they returned to their feet. There, Maynard unleashed on Edgar once again. The undefeated challenger landed a right hook that connected in a major way and followed with a straight right that dropped Edgar at 1:38. Maynard threw a few punches on the ground and allowed Edgar to rise, with the champion stumbling laterally across the cage.
Edgar seemed close to being out on his feet, but he managed to land a looping right hand and, for the first time since the beginning of the fight, was able to avoid a few of Maynard’s power punches. Edgar landed a left hook that snapped Maynard’s chin back at 31 seconds. Maynard pursued Edgar for the remainder of the round, but the champion’s recovery really began before the break between rounds.
Judges Marcos Rosales, Glenn Trowbridge and Patricia Morse-Jarman all scored the first round 10-8 for Maynard. There is no argument that it was at least a 10-8 round, but it begs the question of what exactly merits a 10-7 round if round one of Edgar-Maynard 2 was not 10-7. The unified rules specifically call for 10-7 rounds, with the stated difference being that a 10-8 round is when “a contestant overwhelmingly dominates” and a 10-7 round is when a “contestant totally dominates.” Of course, it seemed unlikely that this would matter given how much trouble Edgar faced in the opening frame.
When Edgar returned to action in round two, he was a rejuvenated fighter. Bouncing back and forth very quickly on his feet and moving his head to and fro, he undoubtedly wanted to send the message to Maynard that he was back. Edgar then proceeded to dominate the round.
Edgar threw a kick to the body six seconds into the round and followed with an inside leg kick. Maynard, on the other hand, loaded up an occasional one-off power punch that the champion was able to easily dodge. At 4:05, Maynard threw the left hook that landed so well in round one. Edgar, having been cautioned by his corner about the left hook between rounds, moved out of the way easily. Edgar gained confidence and danced in and out quickly while Maynard stood stationary, occasionally going for the home run swing.
At 2:46, Maynard landed a left uppercut that was his first effective offensive of the round, but Edgar answered six seconds later with a loud power right hand to the challenger’s chin that turned around his body. It looked like the sort of blow that can rock a fighter, but Maynard’s strong chin allowed him to stand his ground.
Maynard attempted a takedown following the power shot, but Edgar easily brushed it off. Edgar then landed a punch to the body and a couple jabs. Maynard charged in with punches, but Edgar quickly switched levels and grabbed Maynard’s legs at 1:18. Edgar lifted Maynard over his shoulder and slammed him down to the mat. Maynard got up and landed his left hook but with considerably less power than in the first round. Edgar responded with a pair of punches to the body and a right to the chin that connected well. Edgar stuffed another Maynard takedown and landed two more strong straight rights as the round came to a close.
Round two clearly belonged to Edgar. FightMetric had Maynard landing only six strikes to Edgar’s 21, and the champion added a beautiful slam, as well. Between rounds, Randy Couture tore into Maynard, imploring him to stop looking for the knockout. All three judges scored the round 10-9 for Edgar. With that, “The Answer” announced to Maynard that he would not be taking his title easily.
Finish Reading » Rematch Needed