MMA Nation spoke with Gray Maynard as he prepares for his UFC 136 lightweight title fight against champion Frankie Edgar. Maynard and Edgar have a bit of history together with Maynard winning the first meeting by a clear unanimous decision. The second time was the controversial event that saw the fight end in a draw. Edgar went home with the belt. Maynard went home with a bad taste in his mouth.
At yesterday's post-presser media scrum, UFC President Dana White explained that the loser of Maynard/Edgar III would be far removed from the lightweight title picture. When asked if that was something that he thought about headed into the UFC 136 bout with Edgar, Maynard was brutally honest, saying "it's always motivation. The belt is. I don't dwell on if I lose or if I do this. I come in here to win."
While Maynard may be entering this bout with confidence he'll win the belt, he isn't coming with hatred towards his opponent. He's more frustrated the second bout ended in a draw and he allowed the fight to go to the judges. Maynard views this as his opportunity to prove Edgar's ability to endure can't be repeated and it is Maynard who deserves to be the new lightweight champion. "Before January first, it was kind of just get past it. Then the draw happened and I've just been motivated and it's all I care about," Maynard told the media. "I'm pumped to get in there in a couple nights. He's a good guy, everyone will tell you that he is a nice guy, " he insisted.
"I'm more angry at the draw. And how did I allow that to happen. I'm pumped to have it again. And to prove to everybody that I can beat him. It's always on me. Judges judge. That's what they call. But for me, I have to make it happen. I have to take that bull by the horns to prove that I'm the man that deserves the belt."
The two were originally scheduled to meet in May before both were sidelined by coinciding injuries. For many fighters this could be an emotional roller coaster and cause them to lose focus on the endgame. Maynard doesn't see it that way.
In fact, Maynard is choosing to see the glass as very much half full. The injury allowed him to prepare even more for Egdar and expand his skills. "For me, I like to train. I like to plan. I had a good camp before the 28th bout. A couple injuries but still the planning, the training all the way through," said Maynard. "It helps to prepare you. And then I had three or four weeks off because of the injury and then I was preparing again. A lot of preparation. That's great for me. I love that. It's time well spent."