By George Shunick
Our thoughts exactly. Props: MMAMania
Gray Maynard has never been the most popular UFC fighter. Maybe it’s because it’s almost impossible to picture him as an underdog; he’s an enormous lightweight who lives up his “Bully” moniker. (His choice of entrance music probably doesn’t do him any favors, either.) He’s always Goliath, and in our society we’re conditioned to root for David. That attitude was epitomized in Frankie Edgar’s back-to-back comebacks against him, with the crowd firmly in favor of the smaller fighter who seemed to rely on his will and technique, while Maynard relied on his size and power. As long as Maynard’s achievements were contextualized within that narrative, he would always be the villain.
Clay Guida won the first two rounds of their main event last night by constantly remaining out of Maynard’s reach, dictating the pace, occasionally landing jabs, and landing a solid head kick in the latter half of the second round. The action had been sparse throughout, but it seemed understandable; Guida obviously didn’t want to engage Maynard head on at first, he’d tire him out and then wear him down. Well, that didn’t happen. For the majority of the third round, Guida squandered whatever momentum he may have built by circling, dancing, and circling some more. It was UFC 112 Anderson Silva on meth. By the end of the round, Maynard was flailing with power punches, frustrated by Guida’s unwillingness to engage.
Midway through the fourth round, Maynard had enough. With Guida still circling and refusing to engage, Maynard finally grabbed a hold of him, landed some knees and then proceeding to embody the audience’s frustrations by dropping his hands and bellowing epithets, daring Guida to just stop running and hit him. Guida proceeded to oblige him, only to have Maynard walk through a hard overhand right, stuff a takedown and almost secure an arm-in guillotine in an unprecedented display of attitude and badassery that it actually caused fans to cheer him. Round 5 was unfortunately more of the same, which is to say, not much at all.