Ahead of Saturday's UFC 136 main event between Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar and challenger Gray Maynard for the third and quite possibly final time, I'd like to cast our minds back to their UFC 125 war at the beginning of the year that ended in a draw. UFC have kindly enough put up the fight on their website to watch for free and have marketed the rematch as 'The Great Debate' pushing the notion fans are divided over who should have won the fight.
Judges in MMA are often maligned for decisions made that seem so obviously at odds with what actually happened in a fight, but when it comes down to closely contested bouts like Edgar vs Maynard 2 it can be a hard task keeping score no matter how into the sport you are. On first viewing I didn't have much of an issue with the match ending in a draw Giving 2 rounds to Maynard and 3 rounds to Edgar but the first 10-8 round for Maynard resulted in my personal score of 47-47. Watching the fight again in full and uninterrupted I'm leaning to Edgar winning 4 rounds to 1 and even with the first round as a 10-8 against him, Edgar gets the nod 48-46. I may end up changing my mind watching another time before the UFC goes live in Houston, Texas at the Toyota Center. It really was that close of a fight.
Earlier today Fraser Coffeen looked at the striking of Frankie Edgar vs Gray Maynard. As usual my specialty for these Judo Chops is a look at the grappling element of a match and I'll be featuring the highlights of each round as well as some elements that caught my interest and may have been missed by most on initial viewing. Join me after the jump for my analysis that is as always illustrated with animations.
Sprawl'n'Brawl - A little more than a minute into the first round Maynard lands a left hook that sends Edgar hurtling backwards and flipping over himself as he fights to regain his balance and defend himself. Maynard swarms on Edgar looking for a finishing blow and uppercuts Edgar who dives for a leg out of desperation and will to survive. Maynard is using his left arm to whizzer and is sprawling on the side of his left leg while using his free arm to land shots to the top of the head and side of the body. Sprawling on one hip like this is sometimes known as a Knockout Sprawl as it 'Knocks Out' the Wrestling Shot it's countering. Presumably this type of sprawl could also cause the opponent to face-plant as well, but I've not heard it called a Knockout Sprawl for this reason.
Red Mist - Maynard switches to a very shallow double over-hook control but Edgar's hips are too far back and his arms free to block Maynard's own hips to push back and break free and get back to his feet. Maynard maintains a grip with his left hand to the back of Edgar's head and lands a short uppercut that drops him. Maynard is now only focused on swinging for Edgar's head with little control of Edgar's body. Maynard is at times swinging wildly hitting Edgar's arms more often than his head. It could be this very sequence that cost Maynard the victory.
Grounding before Pounding - Maynard finally gets some semblance of control on a turtled Edgar. Maynard is using his right arm and hand to wrap over Edgar's back and pry the inside of his thigh - what's known as a Seatbelt grip (not to be confused with the over-under back control Jiu Jitsu calls a Seatbelt, which is why I prefer to call that a Lasso to avoid confusion). This Offensive Position from Wrestling is the same control Dan Henderson used when he finished off Fedor Emelianenko in their match. Some analysts incorrectly called it a tight-waist which in wrestling is a more encompassing hold that's usually used as part of a turnover series. The dangers of a tight-waist without a cross-face, half-nelson, bar-arm or arm-chop is the ability of the Defensive Wrestler to grip the arm and Side-Roll because the tight-waist is far across the belly. The Seatbelt grip makes the side roll much harder to execute because your giving the down wrestler less to grab onto and less leverage.
Maynard does well to drive off of his left foot to keep his hips pressuring Edgar's hips, but having his right knee on the ground means not all of his weight is on Edgar which allows Edgar to inch towards the fence that he grabs to help him get back to his feet. Hard Maynard kept that knee just an inch off the ground he may have been able to maintain enough pressure to keep Edgar down while looking to punch with his left arm. Although Edgar is back on his feet Maynard is able to drag him back down to the mat and ends in a similar Whizzer-Sprawl position as before.
Pressure Cooker - Feeling Edgar trying to grab a single-leg again from this sprawl, Maynard switches to a Front Headlock to control Edgard and get him back down to the mat when he tries to stand back up, using a chin grip in the Front Headlock to do so. Once on the mat again Maynard tries to setup a 'Pressure Cooker' - something he had been working on with his grappling coach Sean Spangler at Robert Drysdale's BJJ gym. The 'Pressure Cooker' is essentially a modified Three-Quarter Nelson into a Side Chancery off of a Front Headlock. You can get the tap with it, or it can be used like a Nelson to turnover but in its modified form can lead right into a Brabo / D'Arce choke. I slowed the gif down at the point Maynard attempts this Three-Quarter Chancery so you can spot it. Maynard's problem again is not getting his weight off of his knees and onto Edgar who can endure and pop out getting the fight back to standing and in the clinch. Below are pictures of a Three-Quarter Nelson and Side Chancery for reference, as well as video of Sean Spangler demonstrating the 'Pressure Cooker' on Robert Drysdale.
Spiral Ride Attempt - Since the last gif Maynard has dropped Edgar an additional 2 times and Maynard has Edgar again in a Front Headlock and looks like he might try a Three-Quarter Chancery again but doesn't have full control. Instead he uses the Seatbelt grip again only this time to set up what looks like an attempted Spiral Ride - a move from wrestling designed to breakdown the opponent so they become either belly-down flat on the mat or on their side. The trouble is Maynard's right arm needs to be on the outside of Edgar's right arm so it can knock that arm forward taking away Edgar's base as Maynard spirals him to the mat. Because of this Maynard can not start the Spiral Ride and Edgar is able to turn into the opposite direction (Clockwise) to the direction Maynard would want to take him (Counter-Clockwise). Again I slowed the animation down so you can see Maynard make the attempt. Below is a video of Wrestling legend Wade Schalles demonstrating the Spiral Ride.
Half-Beat Pick Up - Astonishingly Edgar started Round 2 as if he hadn't been through the beating of his career in minutes earlier. Edgar had been using the jab well to find his distance and switched up his lateral and circular movement from left to right in order to wrong foot Maynard. Edgar had also found success with his right cross causing Maynard's head to recoil on more than one occasion. Edgar had got Maynard's timing down with less than 2 minutes left in the round, and as Maynard telegraphed himself coming in with a power right hand Edgar was able to slap and deflect the punch across his centerline. It was this slap that helped break Maynard's rhythm enough for Edgar to duck down and get under Maynard's center of mass for the pick-up and slam, crashing his whole bodyweight into Maynard and narrowly missing the top of his (Edgar's) head colliding with the mat. Breaking the rhythm of an opponent as well as your own rhyhtm when striking by using 'half-beats' was a concept of fighting the great Bruce Lee advocated in order to disrupt the opponent and expose them temporarily for attack, as well as avoid having your own timing figured out.
Just after the slam it looks like Maynard tries to scissor Edgar's head while Edgar is looking to turn into Maynard, trying to use his left leg to Turk as an assist. In the scramble Maynard is able to get his feet away and hip in with a sprawl so he can get back to standing.
Snap Catch - Edgar had been scoring points in round 3 by coming in with short combinations and getting back out again to avoid Maynard's retaliation. Edgar looked to be landing more strikes, but when Maynard was able to catch him with a punch or two he was able to bloody Edgar's nose which may have swayed the judges in damage being done. Edgar then tries to throw a rear front snap kick and had it landed and KO'd Maynard, he'd have beaten Anderson Silva to the glory by just over a month. Sadly for Edgar, Maynard saw it coming and instinctively grabbed the leg and drove him towards the fence looking for a takedown. As he's doing this Edgar isolates an arm and looks to setup a Double Wrist Lock / 'Kimura'. Maintaining his body-lock, Maynard is able straddle his legs deep across Edgar's right leg and while pulling on Edgar's hips is able to use his head to drive through Edgar's lower back and get him to the mat.
Shin Up - Maynard's advantage is short lived as Edgar maintains his grip of Maynard's right arm now using a Single Wrist Lock grip so that he can use his free arm to base. Edgar also uses his right shin as a block against Maynard's so he can push off and return to his feet.
Countering Counters - Edgar decides to adjust and get his Double Wrist Lock grip back, but before he has a chance to pull guard Maynard is already driving him down controlling the fall and blocking Edgar's legs from wrapping him up. Edgar is able to get a shallow scissor on Maynard's leg but it's nowhere near enough to be Half-Guard and Maynard is able to pop his leg out and spin around to a kneeling North-South perhaps looking to set up a Head-Scissor / Armlock combination like he attempted on Roger Huerta a few years back. Maynard though doesn't have full control of Edgar's arms and hasn't used a knee to cross-face Edgar and get him to turn which allows Edgar to beautifully spin to Half-Guard, locking up Maynard's head before continuing to a Full Closed Guard and Arm-in Guillotine choke. In the UFC's marketing and countdown for their third fight the significance of this choke attempt has been greatly exaggerated as barely 3 seconds go past before the end of the round and it didn't look deep enough to cause Maynard any worry.
This third round could be the one that divided the most opinion in who to score it for. The greater number of Edgar's strikes versus the few Maynard power strikes that bloodied Edgar. Maynard being able to get a takedown but Edgar threatening the arm and ending the round with a choke. Who do you give the round to?
Running Tap - Maynard starts the round well with some good jabs but pretty quickly Edgar decides he wants to get the fight to the ground. Similar to the Half-Beat slap from before, Edgar uses his right palm to briefly jam Maynard's left before using it drop his level slightly and go for a running single leg with a knee tap on the far leg. Edgar has aligned himself so that there is a straight line between his feet and Maynard's left heel and so combined with the knee tap and drive Maynard struggles to maintain his balance. As Maynard tries to get up Edgar tries for a traditional standing Guillotine choke, rolling his hips in and trying to turn Maynard's head to the side. There's not much Edgar did wrong with this traditional Guillotine it's just that a fighter as experienced and as strong as Maynard isn't going to have much trouble defending if he's fully conscious. I personally think the traditional guillotine has been made redundant by higher percentage versions such as the High Elbow (Marcelo Garcia) version, as well as the Prayer Choke / Front Chancery (Which Cody McKenzie likes to use) version. Maynard is able to control Edgar's wrists and worm his way out and Edgar breaks from the clinch landing a short combo for good measure.
Reverse the Corner - Seconds later Edgar slips a left jab of Maynard and uses it to change levels and shoot for a double leg takedown. Normally turning the corner involves using your head to help direct the fall of the opponent but Edgar perhaps feeling Maynard already adjusting to counter changes directions and sweeps his legs form underneath him more as you would with a knee-tap. The ability to adjust and change mid-takedown and use the opponent's energy against him is high level stuff and really impressive.
Lassos and Butterflies - Although taken down Maynard has managed to keep a Butterfly hook / Single Elevator in to help keep Edgar off balanced. Edgar tries to pass and lock up a head but that shin of Maynard is creating space for Maynard to move. Maynard's inside leg has gone to a half-guard position and it's this combined with an outside Butterfly hook that makes for a Half-Butterfly guard. Maynard is able to elevate enough to go for turtle and Edgar latches on with an over-under Lasso grip. Being that high up on the body with no control of the hips makes the control in effective and really it's use comes into play once you have the back and the hooks in to stop you being bucked off. Without your legs in for some kind of ride you can easily slide off to the side and against a good wrestler he can duck out before you can do anything with it. Marcelo Garcia's success tends to come from the speed in which he transitions from a Lasso on Side Turtle to taking the back as well as opponents perhaps not knowing how best to duck out by using their whole body instead of just using their arms to fight it off. Maynard is able to stand up and the two clinch, but Edgar is keeping his shoulder jammed underneath Maynard's chin to prevent him from dropping down and going for a leg attack like a double-leg takedown.
Wall'n'Brawl - Maynard and Edgar had been trading takedown attempts since the last animation where both were finding success shrugging them off and stuffing them until just over 2 minutes left in the round.Edgar feints and changes levels looking for a takedown. He gets a more traditional running knee-tap from a body-lock and Maynard loses his balance as he's driven into the fence. It's now Edgar's turn to Seatbelt Maynard though this time Maynard has managed to get a Whizzer in to stop his back being taken. Edgar though is doing a better job of putting pressure on Maynard's hits until he starts firing off 3 punches with his right hand when he sees Maynard's head is open.