UFC lightweight fighter Gray Maynard earned himself a spot as the number one contender in the 155lb division this past weekend by defeating fellow top lightweight Kenny Florian. Maynard defeated Florian via unanimous decision, a trend that the undefeated fighter is becoming known for; his last seven fights have gone the distance. Maynard has come under some criticism for his decision-prone style but “The Bully” recently made an appearance on the Sherdog Radio Network’s Savage Dog Show where he pointed to that criticism as being unfair considering the level of competition he has stepped up against.
“If you go through all the guys I’ve faced. I don’t know who else has done that,” Maynard said. “Those are all top guys. I know Huerta, Miller and Edgar have never been finished and Diaz was tapped out a long time ago by Hermes Franca. Florian got tapped out in the championship rounds by B.J. Penn. That’s a lot of tough guys. Of course, I’m going out there to knock people out. But if it doesn’t happen, you still have to win the fight. You want to tap people out, but I don’t know who’s gone through those guys. Who’s fighting all these guys?”
Maynard trains out of Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas, a gym well known for setting up effective game plans against opposition. “The Bully” said that it is out of respect for his coaches’ knowledge that he doesn’t stray far from the game plans set out by his coaches and that sometimes the plans don’t lend themselves to exciting finishes.
“If I was to say, ‘Screw the plan. I’m just going to go out here and try to knock this guy out’ — that would be a slap in the face to my team,” said Maynard. “My coaches are coming up with these great plans and it’s like, ‘You know, you don’t know what the (expletive) you’re talking about. I’m just going to make it a crazy fight and knock somebody out. If it doesn’t happen, then I’m going to get knocked out.’ If I did that, they’d be kicking me out of the gym real quick.”
In Maynard’s recent match with Florian, the former NCAA Division-1 wrestler drew the ire of his opponent by issuing statements that Florian found to be “cocky.” Maynard didn’t quite think of what he was doing as being arrogant, but instead as doing what he had to in order to get a high-profile fight.
“I called him out,” said Maynard. “If that’s cocky, then I guess I’m cocky. But I want to fight the best. Maybe (Florian) was mad at that. Maybe he was mad that he got called out, but I want to go up against the top guys and sometimes I have to do that. I called out Edgar and it’s just been the top dudes from there on out. I was pumped to fight (Florian).”
Maynard also broke down his fight with Florian, and explained why he held back on his takedowns early in the fight.
“It’s poker a little bit,” said Maynard. “You can’t show your hand too early. We wanted him to not know where or when I’d be shooting. We had a plan for the jab and a plan for the kicks. He didn’t throw the jab too much and I think I might have hit him in round one and made him think I’ve got some power. I just wanted to get him to where he didn’t know whether I was going to shoot. I wanted to fluster him.”
The Ultimate Fighter season five alum is set to take on UFC Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar sometime down the road and, though he is looking forward to that fight, he is also looking forward to helping out his training partners, shoring up some of the weaknesses in his game and enjoying life’s luxuries that are seldom an option for a professional fighter.
“I’m going to get back in the gym,” said Maynard. “There are a couple of guys to help, but you also have time to slow down and learn. I’ll have a chance to drink some beers, eat some food and enjoy my life. I love training, I like eating and I like drinking beer.”