Maynard Loses, Leaves Cage Unscathed

By Brian Knapp and Jose Valenzuela Apr 26, 2009
AUBURN, Ala. -- Knighted by some and demonized by others, Kyle Maynard completed his almost two-year-long journey into the cage on Saturday at the Auburn Covered Arena. He left it unscathed, save for the defeat on his amateur mixed martial arts record.

The 23-year-old congenital amputee dropped a three-round decision to Bryan Fry in the main event of an Auburn Fight Night show and received five standing ovations for his efforts. Fears centered on the possibility of his being injured lingered overhead, but Maynard proved capable of defending himself. All three judges scored it 30-27 in Fry’s favor.

Maynard’s dogged pursuit of a takedown never paid off, as Fry kept him at bay with jabs, open-handed hooks and the occasional uppercut. The Wisconsin native maintained a standing position for the duration of the bout, and though Maynard was often the aggressor, he failed to score with anything of substance.

“I think it’s a tough gameplan to prepare for,” Maynard said. “I felt like I gave 100 percent. He didn’t want to go to the ground, and I wasn’t going to win a boxing match with him.”

Piggybacked to the cage by longtime friend Ben Davis, Maynard was confronted by a cold reality soon after he entered it.

“When I walked in the cage, and when [Fry] was first able to initiate contact, I realized this was the most serious thing I’d ever gotten myself into, and I loved it,” he said. “I think my ear is still buzzing from that first shot.”

Fry -- whose mother cares for mentally and physically handicapped patients and whose son suffers from sickle cell anemia -- claimed he accepted the fight with Maynard in good faith to help the Georgian show others afflicted with disability that dreams are reachable.

“It was important for me to come down here,” said Fry, who won for the first time in three amateur appearances. “If my son sees this guy get in the ring, it lets him know.”

Jose Valenzuela/

Bryan Fry vs. Kyle Maynard
Fry credited Maynard for the courage he showed.

“I was pretty damned amazed,” he said. “I didn’t expect him to be that quick. He’s got bigger balls than a lot of the guys I know.”

The setting was far from ideal. Partially enclosed by a steel skeleton, the “arena” came complete with a dirt floor peppered with straw, a wooden press box and bleachers, a hot dog stand, a row of portable toilets and a live band. Sexual enhancement fliers were passed out to the crowd before the first fist flew, and cigarette smoke choked the air, as Maynard and Fry -- the ninth and final bout on the card -- competed in a square cage of black chain-link.

Still, the venue served its purpose for Maynard, who was denied an MMA license by the Georgia Athletic and Entertainment Commission in 2007.

He tempered the disappointment of defeat with optimism and perspective.

“I wanted to win so bad, but it was still one of the best moments of my life,” Maynard said. “A lot of people didn’t think I would last 30 seconds. If you want something bad enough, you’ve got to step in there and do it. I love the sport so much. It would have been so tough to love something so much and never get the chance to taste it.”

Maynard did not compete with gloves, as perspiration -- temperatures hovered in the 80s for much of the night -- caused them to come loose during a warm-up session.

“I couldn’t keep them on,” Maynard said. “I had to tell [Fry] around the seventh or eighth fight. He’s a tough fighter. A lot of guys wouldn’t have taken the fight. A lot of guys [when confronted] at the last minute with this, would have been like, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa. What about gloves?’”

His thirst for competition far from fully quenched, Maynard plans to compete again in amateur MMA and still holds out hope he will be allowed to do so in a regulated state, perhaps even his native Georgia.

“I want to go in [before the commission] with as much proof as I can,” he said. “I still have the opportunity to go do that. I don’t know if I’ve built my case yet. I don’t know what I have to do to fight in a commissioned state.”

Cornered by UFC veteran Paul Creighton, a Renzo Gracie black belt with whom he now trains full-time, Maynard plans to return to his Duluth, Ga., gym soon.

“I didn’t win tonight,” Maynard said. “I have to get back on the horse and perfect things. This has given me a taste. I want to get back in there and do it again. I’m only 23 years old. I’ve got a lot of time left athletically.”
<h2>Fight Finder</h2>