Photos by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
We might have the fight of the year on January 1st. Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard put on an all-time classic at UFC 125. It looked like it would be a short night for Edgar after Maynard landed power shot after power shot in round one and nearly finished the champion multiple times. Edgar found a way to prevent referee Yves Lavigne from making his presence known, however, and survived the beating he took in round one.
Edgar recomposed himself during the break and capitalized on Maynard, who might have punched himself out in round one. It was a back-and-forth affair from there, with Maynard and Edgar splitting rounds three and four, respectively. I scored the fight 38-37 going into the final round, which I ended up scoring 10-9 for Edgar despite a strong urge to give it the ol' 10-10. None of the judges agreed on an outcome with Marcos Rosales awarding the fight 48-46 for Edgar, Glen Trowbridge saw it 48-46 for Maynard, and Patricia Morse Jarman agreeing with my 47-47 draw.
I cannot understate the quality of this fight. This had everything a fight fan wants to see: the stakes of Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen, the dramatic comeback of Brock Lesnar vs. Shane Carwin, the heart of Jorge Santiago vs. Kazuo Misaki, the high-tempo of Leonard Garcia vs. Chan Sung Jung, and the technical acumen of Martin Kampmann vs. Carlos Condit. I'll have a better idea in a few months when I can drop the recency bias, but this might go down as my favorite fight of all time.
Bullet points and new fun stuff below:
- In addition to the excellence in the cage, we heard some world-class corner advice in the main event. After round one, Edgar's corner advised their fighter on two important points: you need to keep your eyes on Maynard when you move and you need to watch out for his left hook, which had been the punch that hurt Edgar the most during the first round. After Edgar regained his form and took round two, Randy Couture ripped into Gray Maynard during the break. He told Maynard to stop looking to knockout Edgar, and instead to focus on repeating the beating he laid out in round one. Salient points from both corners, and impressive stuff from the two fighters by making the appropriate adjustments during the fight.
- I thought Maynard wouldn't have nearly the same wrestling success that he found in the first fight, but even I was surprised at how impotent Edgar made him look throughout the bout. And who would have predicted that the biggest slam of the fight would be performed ON Maynard?
- I bust on Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan a lot, and even I'll admit that I sometimes find stuff to nitpick, but, that being said, tonight is the perfect example of their limitations. Edgar and Maynard put on an all-time classic fight, but you wouldn't have gleaned that from the commentary. This sort of fight allows commentators to put their own stamp on the proceedings. Instead of creating phrases that could become a part of fight lore, Goldberg settled for shouting "TWO MINUTES REMAIN!" as the fight approached its final bell.
- And just to add another point...Joe seemed at odds to think of a fight where a fighter came back strong after a first round blitzkrieg. Perhaps Brock Lesnar submitting Shane Carwin at UFC 116, Joe?
- Five-round fights rule! Look back through the five-round fights that entered the championship rounds in 2010. How many "bad" fights can you pick out? Maybe one? When you add rounds, you raise the stakes. When you raise the stakes, you raise the drama. When you raise the drama, you push the ceiling of quality that a fight can achieve. This is why I push hard for five-round fights.
- While I'm happy the bout was scored a draw, I agree with those who called out Rosales 48-46 Edgar card. I assume he gave Maynard a 10-8 first and scored every subsequent round for Edgar. While round three was close, I'm not sure you can score it for Edgar if you refuse to utilize the 10-10 option.
Maybe we won't get that inane WEC title shot after all. Giving Anthony Pettis a title shot over a Gray Maynard rematch is more insane than the original plan.Scratch that. Just saw that White is still following through with a Pettis title shot. Embarrassing. Where was Carlos Condit's immediate title shot? Steve Cantwell? Chael Sonnen/Paulo Filho? I'm absolutely flabbergasted as to why Zuffa feels they need to "legitimize" the WEC lightweight division this way. Why not have Pettis fight Jim Miller? Or the winner of George Sotiropoulos vs. Dennis Siver? Or Evan Dunham, who's the first guy in front of him in the USA Today/SBN Nation Consensus Rankings? UPDATE: Nevermind? Steve Cofield tweets that Dana White told Kevin Iole that Maynard will get a rematch.
More analysis and fun stuff after the break!
- Here's what I tweeted prior to the co-main event: "I picked Leben, but it would not shock me to see his chin crumble like Brandon Vera in this fight." I became very concerned about Leben after watching him talk on the UFC 125 countdown show. He speech is noticeably slower; his voice more gravelly. Leben's chin has always been an incredible benefit for him, but it came with a cost. Leben trusted his chin so much, he was willing to take shots in order to get within range to throw his own. That mindset will catch up with you, no matter how good the chin. It happened to Chuck Liddell. It happened to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. And, tonight, it happened to Chris Leben.
- Speaking of Brandon Vera, he looked to have solved his problem of passivity in the standup tonight. Unfortunately, the majority of the fight was fought on the floor, and Vera's complacent nature reared its head. Vera showed no urgency at any point off his back. It's hard to see Vera getting another fight in the UFC unless he finagled some sort of fight guarantee into his contract.
- I'd hate to be Dong Hyun Kim and Nate Diaz, who I had pegged as the fight of the night up until the main event. Diaz showed how fun MMA grappling can be when the fighter on bottom utilizes an active, offensive guard. Kim did a fantastic job of defending on top while working to improve his position. Whenever Diaz was able to throw his right leg over the shoulder, Kim remained cognizant of controlling the left leg to prevent Diaz from locking on a triangle. Really good stuff from both guys. Very interested in what they were saying to each other as well.
- Takanori Gomi's chances of making a run in the UFC disappeared faster than it took him to knock out Tyson Griffin at UFC on Versus 2.
- I thought Marcus Davis looked very good at 155 pounds for 12 minutes. Then Jeremy Stephens happened. Wonder if Davis is going to call it quits.
- On a lighter note, what's the over/under on how many times Davis watched The Fighter? I'll set a tentative line at 3.5.
- While Josh Grispi probably didn't deserve to fight for the title after tonight's showing, it would have provided Jose Aldo with a nice little addition to his highlight reel.
- Well, I'm sure glad Uncle Dana gave us that Phil Baroni fight. You can make it up to us by putting the Mike Brown fight up for free on the UFC website tomorrow. Thanks.
Fighter of the Night
Photo by Dave Mandel for Sherdog.com
Just a manly effort from Frankie Edgar tonight. Maynard was one big punch away from finishing the fight at multiple occasions during the first round, but Frankie found a way to keep Yves Lavigne from stepping in. That was impressive enough, but he went on to win at least two rounds, depending on who you ask. Fantastic stuff,
though I'm disappointed we aren't getting a third fight and I'm happy we're getting a third fight with Maynard.
Mike Goldberg Line of the Night
"He's the Ultimate Warrior without the face paint."
Goldberg made that statement in reference to
Frankie Edgar Clay Guida. Clay Guida weighs just north of 155 pounds, has a gas tank that has him bouncing around after fifteen minutes of fighting, and is a pretty articulate guy despite his suburban Chicago upbringing. The Ultimate Warrior pushed 300 pounds in his heyday, blew himself up before he even stepped into the ring, and rambled about going into the cockpit of Hulk Hogan's plane, taking the controls, and crashing it. Not exactly the best comparison, my friend.
Sponsor of the Night
Not sure when SafeAuto decided to get into MMA sponsorships, but they were all over the card tonight. I've used SafeAuto in the past. They're great when you own a car that's relatively disposable. And while I never had to use them to make a claim, I always had a good experience with their call center when I had to make a change to my policy. They're currently using the Justin Case ad campaign, but I remembered when the company had first started up and they made a big deal about how quickly you could get minimum coverage insurance. I can't find any video evidence, but the commercials featured people calling to get policies after they'd just been in accidents. That's how I remember it at least.
Moment of the Night
Photo via UFC.com
I really enjoy watching displays of male dominance in the cage, and Silva provided a heaping of it tonight. Thiago Silva spanking, slapping, and Sakuraba double-chopping Brandon Vera really got me going.
Entrance Song of the Night
"My Hero" by the Foo Fighters, courtesy of Clay Guida
This isn't my favorite Foo Fighters song, and I can agree with Derek Suboticki's sentiments that the song can be lumped in with a lot of cliche "hero" songs. But whatever. I think the Foo Fighters are really underrated, and I always get pumped when I find myself listening to them.