The days following the classic put on by Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard in their UFC 125 rematch saw a flurry of reaction from Bloody Elbow writers and community members. As we prepare for the two men to meet for a third time we have a chance to look back at some of the material Bloody Elbow ran at the time.
First, to set the stage, here is the highlight video from the day after the bout:
Mike Fagan talked about what made the fight so exceptional in his post-fight analysis piece:
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.
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.
When Dana White said that the UFC would stick to its plans to give Anthony Pettis the next title shot, instead of a third fight between Edgar and Maynard, Jonathan Snowden took to Bloody Elbow to advocate for the rematch:
This was what mixed martial arts is all about. This was art- a brutal artistry for certain, but art nonetheless. In the end, I didn't mind that the fight was scored a draw. I had it a draw on my own score card giving Maynard the first and third rounds (10-8 Round one) and Edgar rounds two, four, and five. It was as evenly fought as any bout I've seen. No one deserved to lose.
Unfortunately, we will all be losers because of the UFC's insistence on booking fights so far in advance. We just saw a championship fight end in a draw, not a boring fight that no one wants to see again, but an action packed extravaganza. Should Frankie Edgar really go from this to fighting the WEC's lame duck champion Anthony Pettis?
I like Pettis for his potential and think he has a bright future. But why should he be given a title shot when he's never beaten a legitimate top ten fighter? We don't need to see Edgar-Pettis. We need to see Edgar vs. Maynard III and we need to see it as soon as possible.
In the days and weeks following the event, Bloody Elbow caught up with many men involved.
Continue after the jump for more talk from Maynard, his striking coach and Frankie Edgar.
First, Duane Finley sat down with Gray Maynard to talk about the fight:
"The first shot I rocked him with and he was wobbled, I thought it was over," Maynard began. "I thought 'Oh my God, I'm the lightweight champ' in the first round. Once he started to grab on to my leg and looked to survive I knew that I could either slow down, start to pick my shots or I could swing for the fences and finish him. I said 'F*ck it' and went for the finish. I thought it was pretty close to being stopped. Frankie did a good job at staying around. I felt him go down and I hit him with some big punches. He grabbed onto the fence to pull himself up but I thought there was a good chance to knock him out completely and that's why I went for it."
"In that situation those are the only two choices that you have. After the round ended I got up and was flushed because that was a fast pace right off the bat. You have to have a pace and I just didn't expect things to go down that quickly. Look at Shane Carwin when he fought Brock. I'm sure Carwin was in great shape but when he went for the finish he blew his load. In my case I was definitely in tip-top condition for this fight and after how hectic the first round was I needed to regroup and regain my composure. That is what I did in the second round."
Finley sat down next with Maynard's striking coach Gil Martinez:
"The way the first round went down it became a sprint," Martinez began. "I knew when the round ended Gray was going to be tired because he punched himself out a little bit. In the second round he was catching his breath, getting his legs underneath him and if there is anything I would've had him do differently in that second round would have been to not engage as much as he did so that he could regroup."
Martinez continued, "I think it should have been stopped. The kid was hurt. He wasn't doing anything, wasn't protecting himself and was trying to run away. Like I said, he went down from hard, hard shots and if you look at the other fights before it would only take six or seven shots before the referee jumped in. Now I don't know the exact number but I would say Gray hit Frankie with at least 60 shots in that first round. He was spinning around and hitting the canvas. The kid was hurt and I think the fight should have definitely been stopped but it wasn't and now we get to do it again. There are so many lessons Gray will take out of this fight and that will only make him that much more confident the next time around. We talked a lot during our training camp about fighting in the fourth and fifth rounds and now that Gray has been through it, he will only be that much more prepared. On Saturday night he had to figure out how much to hold back or press forward and now that he's been through it, his body will know what to do. If the next fight goes into the fourth or fifth round Gray will know how much energy he can exert and when to turn it up a notch. He will only be that much more confident."
Gil may not know the number of shots Gray landed, but we do. Fight Metric said that Maynard landed 25 of 57 punches in round 1.
Jonathan Snowden caught up with Frankie Edgar later in January to get his thoughts:
Jonathan Snowden: Congratulations on your fight with Gray. I know it wasn't the outcome you were looking for, but I called it one of the best fights in the history of MMA. Having had a chance to reflect on it a bit, what did you take away from the night?
Frankie Edgar: It was a great fight for the fans. I'm proud of my performance and that I was able to bounce back. I'm disappointed that I didn't get the win, but we get to do it again. That will be a treat for the fans and for us too.
Jonathan Snowden: I think it's interesting that you said it was a great fight for the fans. Maybe not a great night for the fighters? I assume that you'd prefer short and easy to 25 minutes and grueling.
Frankie Edgar: You know, I prepare for those fights. Those 25 minute fights. You've got to expect that those can happen. If I can walk away unscathed in a minute, obviously I'd take it. (Laughs). And those will help lengthen your career. But a fight like that with Gray has only done great things for me and my career. My legacy I guess.
Jonathan Snowden: We talked once in an interview about your fighting spirit. At the time you had refused to tap to Tyson Griffin's tight kneebar. Was that first round with Maynard the standing equivalent of that moment? A refusal to give up the fight?
Frankie Edgar: I was definitely a little out of it but I was able to bounce back almost completely. I was kind of on autopilot, let's say that.
Jonathan Snowden: You almost never see a draw in MMA, especially in a fight where no points have been deducted. Were you shocked by the decision?
Frankie Edgar: I was disappointed. You prepare and you train so hard. For victory. To have a fight like that and then not win? It was disappointing. But, it happens.
I just hope we have as much exciting and interesting discussion after the two men meet one more time this Saturday on pay-per-view.