Gray Maynard, the perennial bridesmaid of the UFC's Lightweight division, is keeping his chin up and working to improve despite failing to take Frankie Edgar's title in two attempts at UFC 125 and UFC 136. Maynard has left Xtreme Couture, his long-time training camp and taken up the role of traveling ronin, training at the best camps all over the world.
He spoke to Bloody Elbow alum Duane Finley at Heavy about his time at Nova Uniao and AKA:
"My time in Brazil was eye-opening. ... (One) thing I found surprising was how close the team is. Their camp is very organized. The coaches and athletes are all open to evolving and learning. I don't know if this is the case everywhere in Brazil, but at Nova Uniao it's like a family. Coach Andre Pederneiras is a father figure to a lot of those guys. They would do anything for him, and all he asks is if you are going to be there, you train hard. It got me going every day, and for a guy who gets so much respect, he has zero ego.
"AKA is a great gym, and Javier Mendez told me the door is open any time I want to train. He understands no one should tell an athlete he can't fly out to another gym to learn or train somewhere else if it's going to help him improve, and I appreciate that about him. ... But just like Coach Pederneiras, Javier has actual fighting experience. Coaches who have fought and been through that life operate differently. They know what it is like to be punched and kicked, and that puts ego out the door. They want you to learn because they understand they don't know everything. When they fought, they went to get help from wherever they could and want the same for you.
He has also begun strength and conditioning with the Marinovich brothers. MMA fans will remember them from their time training B.J. Penn for his bouts with Kenny Florian and Diego Sanchez, bouts that saw Penn get stronger as the rounds went on.
Maynard will face Clay Guida in the headliner bout at UFC on FX 4 in June. The winner of the bout will stay alive in the UFC's murderous LW division but the loser will face a long, hard road back to contention. Maynard's making no bones about it, his goal is to get one more shot at the championship but he also wants a 4th bout with Edgar:
"The title has always been the goal. I would love to have the belt and somewhere along the line, get another fight with Edgar. We are 1-1-1 and we need to settle it once and for all. It has to happen eventually, and after that fight we can both be done. We can walk away knowing it's over and that we gave MMA fans some great fights to look back on."