In the UFC 125 main event, current UFC Lightweight champion Frankie Edgar (13-1, 8-1 UFC) will aim to avenge the lone blemish on his record and successfully defend his belt for the second time as he clashes with NCAA Divison I All-American wrestler Gray Maynard (10-0-0-1, 8-0-0-1 UFC). Maynard previously defeated Edgar at UFC Fight Night 13 back in April of 2008 by using his significant size and strength to out muscle and corner the future champion. Those same tactics along with an improving stand-up game have been used by Maynard to ascend to the top of the UFC's lightweight division since that battle. Unfortunately for Maynard, Edgar has improved considerably as well.
Instead of trailing in the wake of Maynard's successes, Edgar continued to battle for the opportunity to fight for the title. He defeated Hermes Franca, Sean Sherk, and Matt Veach over the course of the next year-and-a-half with two of the three bouts being dubbed Fight of the Night performances. Maynard defeated Rich Clementi, Jim Miller, Roger Huerta, and Nate Diaz in that same time span, but there was a lot of criticism revolving around those performances being lackluster and proving Maynard wasn't ready for a big name fight. In the aftermath of the Nate Diaz fight, it was clear that Dana White had reservations about throwing Maynard into the mix at the top of the division, and Frankie Edgar was eventually called upon to challenge B.J. Penn instead of Maynard.
Surprising to most fans, Frankie Edgar defeated B.J. Penn at UFC 112. While I still firmly believe B.J. Penn won that fight, Edgar proved to nearly everyone in the mixed martial arts world that a smaller lightweight with superior footwork and speed could dethrone the "The Prodigy", and he provided evidence of that with a clear cut victory over Penn in a rematch at UFC 118. At that same event, Gray Maynard put a licking on former #1 contender Kenny Florian, solidifying a shot at the winner of the main event, Frankie Edgar.
As expected, much of the discussion in the lead-up to this bout has focused on their previous encounter at UFC Fight Night 13, a bout that took place a few months under three years ago. Maynard's size and wrestling ability is his biggest advantage, but Edgar's speedy footwork and boxing skills should provide the perfect counter.
I fully expected Edgar to out pace and out strike Maynard in this fight, and his improved footwork over the course of the last three years is going to be too much for Maynard to handle. I was under the firm belief that Maynard would wi in this rematch over the last couple of months, but in watching Edgar's improvements on the feet with the struggles that Maynard has had against other competitors in the division -- it's hard not to like Edgar's chances. I'll go against popular opinion and bank on Edgar winning with a similar gameplan as his battles with B.J. Penn.. via decision.