Rather than keeping cool in the air conditioning over the summer, Gray Maynard found himself consumed by a fire sparked months earlier after his title-fight against Frank Edgar at UFC 125 was named a draw by ringside judges. Now, nine months later, Maynard will finally have a chance to unleash the flames he’s internalized since coming up a hair short.
Earlier this week, Maynard spoke candidly about how the outcome has affected him and why he’s supremely motivated to prove he’s the better fighter between the two later tonight in the main event at UFC 136.
“At that time, I felt like I wanted to do it again,” the Xtreme Couture original explained of the draw in a conversation with the UFC’s website. “Over and over….if I had to sign a contract that I had to go up against this guy 100 times to prove to everyone that I (could) beat this guy 100 times then I would have done that. I still feel that way. I want to fight him. I’m not tired of fighting him. I want to fight him. I want to prove to everyone that I can beat him.”
“For me, I’m not trying to hold onto the fact that I beat him before,” Maynard continued. “I forget about that stuff. You can ask me who I beat and I will tell you to check for yourself because I don’t remember. But if you ask me who beat me – I’ll tell you when, the date, the time, who it was, his background – I’ll tell you everything about it. I just hate to lose. I hate draws. I hate everything but a win.”
The 32-year old also made it clear he knows he was handed a gift in the form of an immediate rematch though not one he feels he didn’t necessarily deserve.
“I feel like I’ve earned this. I didn’t try to back door it. I didn’t drop to my knees. I didn’t think this marketing plan will have me at 300,000 Twitter followers and that’s going to get me a title shot. I just asked for the best guys every fight until I had the opportunity. I felt like I won that. The judges say it was a draw – ok. But this dude hasn’t beaten me and he’s the champ. I don’t understand how I don’t get another shot at that. I don’t understand how it’s a question. Thank God they did. I think it was Dana who called and said it was mine and I think I told him I loved him and cried a little bit because that was awesome. He could have chose whoever he wanted to because that’s his job…he chose me and I appreciate that more than anything – it’s unreal.”
If people wonder why Maynard is so passionate about the chance to eliminate the doubt surrounding the situation it has to do with the level of personal investment he’s put into being a great fighter.
“I just want people to know that I really do put everything I have into this sport – into my dreams,” Maynard revealed. “Whether it is cash, time, I put it ahead of a lot of things – of everything. It isn’t a game to me; it’s my life and it’s who I am. You only have a couple times to achieve your dreams and I want to make the most of it. I feel that I’m the guy who can beat him. I feel like I’m the guy who can beat everyone. I’m not trying to say I’m the best or anything, but I put a plan and camp together and I feel like I have the edge in that aspect. I believe in myself.”
At 10-0-1, and with a previous win over Edgar, it’s hard to question Maynard’s self-assurance. Then again, whether or not the same will ring true tomorrow morning remains to be seen.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC