Poor Gray Maynard.
Once again, "The Bully" hit Frankie Edgar with everything he had in the first round of their "trilogy" fight last night (Oct. 8, 2011) in the UFC 136 main event from the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.
Well, almost everything.
"I hit him with a knee, a right. I hit him with a hook -- what else [does it take]?," Maynard pondered aloud. "If there was a bat there I probably would have hit him with that, too, but I didn't find one. [Turns to Dana White and asks] Where do you keep the bats in the cage?
Of course, there aren't any bats; although, Edgar probably would have had "The Answer" for those, too, had Maynard cracked him across the face with a Louisville Slugger.
The undersized Toms River, N.J., native is simply able to absorb an incredible amount of punishment and still persevere. And not just persevere, but improve as time ticks forward. It's an innate trait that has Maynard, as well as most humans, thoroughly perplexed.
"He's a tough kid," Maynard surmised. "And, again, he survived that first round. What the f*ck? He plays the possum or something I think. I don't know. I was trying to pick a shot, but he moves and does a good job with that. I kind of tried to load up a little bit instead of flowing."
If it were just a one-time deal, then perhaps we could chalk it up to a few fight-ending near misses or maybe even luck. However, Edgar demonstrated the exact same grit, resilience and sheer determination in their second fight at UFC 125: "Resolution," which ended in a draw.
Remarkably, his come-from-behind finish last Saturday night was no accident. On the contrary, it was ripped straight from a Hollywood, Calif., movie set. Or, in this case, the rough and tumble "Rocky"-run streets of Philadelphia, Pa., circa 1976.
"That's movie shit, that stuff doesn't really happen in real life," barked an incredulous White at the UFC 136 post-fight press conference. "There are two guys who I have seen do it, Arturo Gatti and Frankie Edgar. That's it. What he did -- the last time and this time -- he is an amazing human being, he's an amazing athlete and he's got a heart the size of this room. That's no promoter bullshit, either."
He's right. Edgar is seemingly unable to be stopped by traditional means. Not yet, anyway. If the gruesome knee bar submission he endured in his win over Tyson Griffin wasn't evidence enough, his two heroic performances against Maynard are proof positive.
It's a reality that Maynard will just have to accept. He's got no other choice at the moment. Even still, the former wrestling standout at Michigan State University was still having a very difficult time coming to grips with Edgar's survivability.
"Hindsight is always 20/20," he said. "I feel like I'm still trying to learn. I still have a lot to do, a lot to grow on. Eh, maybe, I guess i should have finished him in the second. I don't know.... He has a hard head I think, I don't know. F*ck. I hit him a bunch!... I don't know if he even has a button that puts him out, you know?
If he does, no one has been able to find it. And Maynard has hit just about every inch of Edgar's face/head during the course of nearly 45 minutes locked inside a cage together. Yet, still, nothing. No on/off switch.
Maynard is now forced to move on, missing out twice on the opportunity to become a world champion at 155 pounds. He's put his best foot forward on both occasions, but still came up doubly short. Even though he holds a win over Edgar, the way in which he lost in their third encounter will most likely send him to the back of the line.
A position that, for now, seems to suit him fine.
"I'm going to get back in the gym and train, improve on some stuff," Maynard said. "Improve and some stuff and start climbing the ladder again. That was my first loss -- he hit me on the button. That has never happened to me, not even in the gym. I'm down, but I'm not out. I'm going to climb the ladder. I know it might take awhile, but that's me. It's just who I am. I'm going to show everybody that I can still do it. I got heart, I'm not going to quit."
Sounds just like someone he, and we, already know very well. One has to wonder if Edgar will still be king of the lightweight hill if and when Maynard can make good on his future goals.
1-1-1 just doesn't seem like the "resolution" to any true trilogy. At least not for poor Gray Maynard.