As the MMA world begins to detox from Pettis head kick euphoria, it is staring at a lightweight title fight at UFC 125, which will generate “Showtime’s” first UFC opponent. Champion, Frankie Edgar, takes center stage for the third time in nine months as he eyes his second title defense facing the only man to beat him in his career, Gray Maynard. After Edgar’s last five rounds of destruction over BJ Penn, his evolution as a multi-dimensional fighter is stark and clear. The question in this rematch is … how much has Maynard evolved, if at all? Against Kenny Florian, Maynard was dominant, yet predictable, using his wrestling to control the fight. But Edgar’s own mat skills should blunt “The Bully’s” wrestling tool kit and Maynard has not shown to be nearly as deft in the standup game as “The Answer.” So, this should be a far different affair than the first dance, which allowed Maynard to use his size difference to keep Edgar on his back.
If Edgar shows with the same confusing, stunting boxing discipline he used to humble Penn and Sean Sherk, this could be a long night for Maynard.
Here are the three keys to an Edgar victory at UFC 125.
1. Take-down Defense
Edgar needs to stay standing. Not that he can’t compete in a wrestling match with Maynard, but why go to the one place that makes this a 50/50 fight. Edgar has been stuffing takedowns since grade school on the Jersey Shore. If he can frustrate Maynard by stopping his early takedown attempts, he will win the mental game and put the fight in the pocket of his dizzying standup arsenal.
Edgar’s movement is probably more devastating from a mental angle than a physical angle. Do you remember how defeated BJ Penn appeared as early as round 2 in the their last fight? He could not find Edgar in range let alone connect. Maynard is not the striker Penn is, so this advantage will only be more pronounced. When Maynard realizes he can’t hit Edgar, he becomes predictable, his wrestling loses value, and he loses any mental edge.
3. Both fighters will enter the Octagon in prime condition. However, Edgar has the experience and knowledge that his cardio is fight tested for five rounds. He has proven he will be as strong in round-5 as round-1. He has gone the distance in his last two fights and his bouncy treadmill style became another weapon game against the fading Penn. If this one goes to the fifth round, expect a slight edge for Edgar.
In no way do I expect a repeat fight of Edgar / Maynard 1. Edgar has evolved too far and developed more options and weapons to allow Maynard to keep this fight a pure wrestling match. Edgar wins via TKO in round 4.
It’s in your hands folks. Do you agree with my breakdown?