It was almost deja vu. In the first round of Gray Maynard's third fight with UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar, the former Michigan State Spartan had the smaller man reeling. He landed a powerful uppercut, seemingly at will, and had Edgar in all kinds of trouble. Much the same thing had happened in their title fight earlier this year at UFC 125.
In that fight, Edgar came storming back from disaster to earn a draw. This time he managed to gather his wits and batter Maynard until the referee was forced to stop the fight in the fourth round. Maynard, who seemed so dominant in the first round of both fights, had no answer for Edgar's heart, determination, and wicked right hand.
We've seen fighters defy the odds before. Who could believe the 175 pound Royce Gracie submitting 250 pound wrestler Dan Severn at UFC 4? What about Joe Lauzon's stunning knockout of former champion Jens Pulver in his UFC debut (or Lauzon's dismantling of Melvin Guillard last night for that matter). But no one has made a career out of it quite like Frankie Edgar.
Routinely outsized by as much as 20 pounds by his opponents in the UFC's 155 pound weight class, Edgar continues to scoff at doubters - and continues to win. After the fight with Maynard, who he left lying with a series of right hands, Edgar looked like he'd been hit by a truck. Or a hammer. Or a bag of rocks. Something hard.
But Edgar never quit. You could see his brain struggling to quit. His body losing control. Edgar held on. For Maynard, his opponent's resiliency appeared disheartening. He wasn't the same fighter after the first round. As Edgar continued to bounce around, coming forward and landing quick combinations and kicks, Maynard seemed to shut down. Edgar had taken his best and kept coming. The underdog had prevailed. Which begs the question - with his continued success, iron will and chin, and multifaceted game, how long can Frankie Edgar continue to be the underdog?