(Supernanny choke: no can defend)
With UFC president Dana White’s proclamation from the United Arab Emirates this week that should lightweight champion BJ Penn beat Frankie Edgar at UFC 112, he will have cleared out the division and will likely move up to try another run at the welterweight belt, many fans and pundits were left wondering, what about Gray Maynard?
To most, the tough undefeated Phoenix Arizona native seemed like a shoe-in for the next shot at his former Ultimate Fighter Season 5 coach’s belt, but he was inexplicably leapfrogged by Frankie Edgar for the title berth, despite the fact that Maynard handily defeated him two years ago at UFC Fight Night 13: Florian vs. Lauzon. It seems that White is in the minority in his opinion that “Maynard isn’t ready for a title fight yet,” as he told MMAFighting.com’s Ariel Helwani in an interview on Thursday at the Concert Arena in Abu Dhabi.
According to Maynard, White’s remark comes as no surprise, and although he doesn’t necessarily agree with the sentiment, he says he’s willing to wait until he gets his shot.
“I talked to Dana when I was in Australia and he basically said the same thing – that I need one or two more fights before I’m ready for a [title] shot. I think part of it is based off of the Nate Diaz fight. He’s a tough fighter and he makes it really hard to look good when you fight him. I think a lot of guys would have had a tough scrap with him,” Maynard told CagePotato.com on Friday. “I think I’ve probably gone up against more of the top guys in the division than anyone else. I beat Frankie Edgar, Rich Clementi and Jim Miller; Roger Huerta, who I think is going to do really good in Bellator, was only beat by Florian and me. I haven’t had any easy fights. If I can keep winning against tough guys, my shot will come. I’m just keeping my head down, doing what I need to do and taking care of business as usual. ”
In spite of the public scrutiny of the UFC’s decision to grant Edgar a chance at the lightweight title, Maynard says that he likely wouldn’t have been able to have taken the fight even if he had been given a suitable amount of notice as he recently underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair damage to one of his knees.
Shooting for a July or August return to the Octagon, Maynard is hoping to get right back into the mix of contenders against a tough opponent. If what he’s hearing is true, he will get what he’s wishing for.
“I don’t want to fight a guy who is an easy win; I want to have tough scraps. There are a lot of dudes who are tough as hell who are good in all areas in the [lightweight] division. It’s so stacked. I’ve got to be prepared for those guys,” he asserts .“There’s been a lot of talk about a fight with Florian. There’s a chance it might happen on the Boston card in August. I don’t know. We’ll see what the boss man says.”
In the meantime, the 30-year-old Xtreme Couture fighter is keeping his eye on the lightweight belt and its owner, whomever that might be after Saturday’s tilt. Although he anticipates a good fight, he doesn’t see either fighter finishing the other since neither has many weaknesses.
“I see BJ winning by decision. Edgar has a good chin, he’s scrappy and he keeps going. I think there are going to be a lot more guys that are going to be tough to finish. There are going to be a lot more decisions that are close, even fights. I don’t know why people don’t accept that. When the skill levels of two fighters are even in every area, the chances that one is going to finish the other are highly unlikely,” Maynard explains. “The sport is changing. A lot more guys train in every discipline every day now, more than ever before. This is my job. When you put in that much time, you’re going to be a better fighter. Nobody is going to tap me out. Hell, no. The only way you’re going to beat me is by a split decision, and if you do, it will be a crazy fight.”