LAS VEGAS, January 1 – By all rights, Frankie Edgar never should have made it out of the first round of his UFC 125 main event against Gray Maynard. But after surviving multiple knockdowns in the opening frame, the UFC lightweight champion roared back to retain his belt with a five round draw in an exciting bout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena that kicked off the 2011 fight year in style. See post-fight interview with Frankie Edgar
Scores were 48-46 Maynard, 48-46 Edgar, and 47-47. All three judges scored the first round 10-8 in favor of Maynard. See post-fight interview with Gray Maynard
“It felt like the first round didn’t happen,” said Edgar, who made the second successful defense of his title. “It was a close fight.”
“I kinda punched myself out in the first,” said Maynard. “I thought I won (rounds) 1,3,5. It was a close one, but I thought I won.”
The two took their time getting acclimated to the bout in the opening minute, but Maynard announced his arrival to championship mixed martial arts a little more than a minute in with a left hook that hurt and dropped the champion. Edgar got up, only to be sent back down by a right uppercut. Maynard pounced, but amazingly Edgar weathered the assault. Moments later, with Edgar now bleeding from the nose, Maynard struck with another hard right uppercut, and Edgar, his legs wobbly, once again seemed on the verge of defeat. Yet by the end of the round, Edgar was firing back, and now the question to be asked was whether Maynard had gassed himself out.
Edgar opened the second round with a high kick, and he appeared to have his legs back under him as he moved around the Octagon and poked at the challenger with quick flurries. Maynard calmly strode forward, but his face was beginning to show the wear of battle and of Edgar’s resurgent offense. With less than 90 seconds left and the crowd chanting his name, Edgar responded with a quick flurry that opened a cut under Maynard’s left eye, and he followed up with a thunderous slam the ignited the crowd. By the end of the round, Edgar added a stuffed takedown and a right to the face as he emphatically got back in the fight.
“Just beat him up, you don’t need the knockout,” UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture told Maynard between rounds. “You just gave him that round.” The champion wasn’t about to play along though, as he again used his stick and move strategy to perfection while also keeping Maynard from putting him on his back. Maynard kept stalking, and with less than 90 seconds left, he began to get closer with his power shots as he again brought blood from the New Jersey native’s nose before landing a takedown in the final minute. But even on the mat, Edgar kept battling, locking in a guillotine choke just before the bell.
Edgar went on the offensive with a takedown and guillotine choke attempt to begin the fourth round, and while Maynard got up and escaped, the champion called on his wrestling for another takedown seconds later. After the two rose, Maynard - in the fourth round for the first time in his career – continued to chase Edgar, who made him pay when he got too close as he continued his stirring comeback.
With five minutes to go, each shot carried the weight of the outcome on it, and each of these gutsy lightweights had their moments in the first half of the frame. In the second half, Maynard looked for the takedown but was turned back, and Maynard repaid the favor to Edgar, leaving this bout to be settled on the feet. With less than a minute left, Edgar tagged Maynard, Maynard fired back, and both were bloodied as they went toe-to-toe till the final bell.
Edgar’s record now stands at 13-1-1; Maynard remains unbeaten at 11-0-1 with 1 NC.
True Grit – Edgar Retains Title with Draw
Frankie Edgar retained his UFC lightweight title with a five round draw against Gray Maynard