Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard was thought by some to be a joke of a main event leading into UFC 125. Yet after 25 minutes of a classic fight and a controversial draw more MMA fans are clamoring to see these guys fight than ever before. Those fans will get their wish as Dana White announced a rematch.
I will admit that like a lot of MMA fans, I really wasn’t that excited about seeing Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard for the UFC lightweight title. If that makes me a bad fan well so be it. Yet at the end of the day as an MMA blogger I thought it was important to watch the show and the fight. I am glad I did because I caught one of the most exciting UFC lightweight title matches in company history.
[adinserter name=”366 right”]Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard must have missed the memo about fans expecting a boring UFC 125 main event. From bell to bell this was one great fight. Maynard came out like a man possessed in Round 1 and even days later I am still stunned he couldn’t finish the champ. Frankie Edgar not only recovered from one of the most lopsided rounds in his career against him, he finished the fight strong. I know there were MMA fans upset that Gray Maynard didn’t get the win. In my opinion, it was Frankie Edgar that was robbed of one of the great from behind wins in UFC history.
Maynard obviously won the first round and maybe the second. But if there is one thing even casual MMA fans have learned from watching Edgar vs. Maynard 2 and Brock Lesnar vs. Shane Carwin it is that it may be to a great fighter’s advantage to take a beating and allow his opponent to tire himself out in the first round. That is what happened to Shane Carwin and by the third round Gray Maynard was practically gassed. Edgar showed so much heart that with his story, his two dominant fights over BJ Penn, and this comeback that win or lose I think he has turned himself into a UFC superstar appealing to those fans looking to root for the perennial underdog or scrappy little guy.
Once again while the idea that such a great fight would end in a draw is nothing the UFC ever wants, the fight actually turns out to be a huge blessing for the UFC. There has been a lot of talk that while Edgar dominated BJ Penn for two straight fights, the buzz was that Edgar as champion would be a disaster for business. Even going into this fight there were respected MMA journalists who joked about Maynard vs. Edgar drawing money. Now the UFC can not only come back with the same match, it should double the business of UFC 125, and they now have a champion that is a legitimate draw in one of the most exciting divisions in MMA.
I have written a lot about rematches here on the Camel Clutch Blog and I like them, but I don’t like immediate rematches for guys that “came close” to beating a champion. It is almost as if the challenger is getting rewarded for not winning while the champion who somehow retained the title in peril is penalized. I was against it when Dana White announced an immediate Chael Sonnen vs. Anderson Silva and I wasn’t thrilled about Mauricio Shogun Rua getting an immediate rematch. However in the case of a draw, I believe rematches should be signed immediately to give both fighters the opportunity at redemption.
[adinserter name=”366 left”]An early look at the UFC 2011 schedule would probably place Edgar vs. Maynard 3 at around UFC 130 on May 28 back at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. That would make the most sense from a timeline perspective and the idea that the rematch would take place in the same building as the original fight. I would imagine that the UFC would love to get this fight on UFC 128 in Newark, New Jersey and have Edgar fight in his home city. I just think the March 19 date is way too close considering the amount of punishment both fighters took through five rounds just three months earlier.
At the end of the day while Gray Maynard may feel robbed of the UFC lightweight title I think he will be better off cashing in on the rematch and getting sympathy from the UFC fans as a guy that got screwed out of the title. Again in my opinion, it was Frankie Edgar that got robbed of a bad decision but at this point it doesn’t matter who was right or wrong. Dana White and the UFC have a huge rematch on their hands for a fight most people didn’t give a darn about in January.
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