For five minutes, Gray Maynard looked like the best 155-pound fighter in the world, but he could not extinguish the considerable fire housed within UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar.
Some say there was little “Resolution” in UFC 125 as Edgar retained his title in a hotly contested draw with Maynard on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, weathering a first round in which he was brutalized by nearly 100 power punches from the challenger. Two judges scored it 48-46, one for Maynard and another for Edgar. A third saw it a 47-47 deadlock.
“It was a great fight,” Edgar said. “Gray came in hard. S—, I don’t know.”
That Edgar reached Round 2 was a monumental feat in itself. Clocked by a ringing left hook a little more than a minute into the match, he was on his heels for the remainder of the first round. Maynard appeared close to finishing it on a number of occasions, as he waylaid the champion with a relentless volley of punches, highlighted by a pair of wicked right uppercuts. Miraculously, Edgar stayed alive, even as he teetered on the brink. When asked what he remembered about the first five minutes, he replied, “Not much.”
Maynard’s pace slowed noticeably in the second round, and Edgar crept back into the fight. His speed, footwork and quick combinations returned, along with a powerful slam that wowed the Sin City crowd. The back-and-forth encounter spilled into round three, as Maynard answered with power punches and a pair of takedowns of his own.
Edgar secured two takedowns in the fourth and threatened his challenger with a standing guillotine choke against the cage. Maynard escaped and pushed the fight into the final round. There, Edgar utilized a variety of strikes — combinations, jabs and knees to the head and body — to keep Maynard guessing and the 155-pound belt around his waist. They traded blows at the end of it, providing a fitting finish to a memorable rematch.
“Felt good,” Edgar said. “Felt like the first round didn’t happen. It was a close fight. What are you going to do?”
Maynard, still unbeaten as a professional, did not feel the draw did his performance justice.
“I kind of punched myself out in the first [round], so [in] round two, I couldn’t really go that hard,” he said. “But I thought I won one, three and five. Five was a close one, but I think I pushed the pace, and I thought I won. That’s what I thought. I thought it was a 10-8 [first round] and then me in the third and me in the fifth.”