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UFC 136 Preview: Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar, Gray Maynard Meet Again in Main Event

MMAFrenzy’s pre-fight coverage of UFC 136 continues with our head-to-head preview of Saturday’s main event between UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard.

The bout marks the third meeting between Edgar and Maynard and likely their last for some time. Maynard leads the series 1-0-1 and the pair will be looking to recapture the intensity of their first rematch in January, a “Fight of the Year” candidate that ended in draw.

Keys for the Champion- (CL) Frankie Edgar has one thing that he must do to defeat Gray Maynard and that is use Maynard’s aggression against him. Maynard wants the win, badly, and in their last fight it nearly cost Maynard late as he nearly punched himself out in the first two rounds. Maynard will likely be looking for the KO come Saturday night but he is unlikely to be over-aggressive in an effort to conserve energy for the later rounds. Edgar can exploit this by allowing Maynard to stalk early, but striking first instead of countering. In striking first it never allows Maynard to settle in and can entice him into chasing Edgar, exposing himself to strikes.

Maynard is more powerful and the better wrestler, but Edgar has the speed and ususally the more accurate striking. So Edgar needs to use that to his advantage by taking a Dominik Cruz-esque gameplan into the octagon where he darts in and out with strikes while using takedowns as counters to the powerful but slightly slower shots of Maynard. By using the takedowns only as counters to strikes, it also lessens the liklihood that Maynard will be able to quickly recover into shot defense in the form of a sprawl or the more dangerous front-headlock position.

Every wrestler hates being in the front-headlock position because quite frankly it is uncomfortable enough without someone being allowed to punch you in the face or knee you. Nobody likes being in that position but it is one that Edgar has likely worked on a lot leading up to this fight. Maynard has a great one and likely realized how much success he had early on with that position. While most people in that position automatically look for chokes outside of wrestling, it is very useful when you want to slow pace down and punish someone for taking a shot on you. It can be defended, but it still will sap your strength the more you have to fight out of one. So hopefully, Edgar will better set up his shots in this rematch and avoid this compromising position.

Keys for Maynard- (Bryan Robison) Maynard came ever so close to winning the title rather quickly and easily in January. He knocked the champion Edgar down four times in the first round, with the fight in jeopardy of continuing throughout the round. Unfortunately for Maynard, Edgar was able to keep his senses, and the fight continued. While he did win that round handily with a 10-8 score, he immediately dropped off in the second round. While that energy and precision was seen here and there in the next three rounds, it was never as consistent as it was in the first round.

Maynard has to not only maintain that energy, but he has to be smarter on picking his shots. Edgar is wanting to out-point him with his punches and kicks. Maynard is wanting to knock him out. Maynard has to use that to his advantage, and counter him a lot better on his feet.

Additionally, Maynard was not able to use his size to his advantage. He is “The Bully”, after all. Takedowns are not going to be as successful against Edgar as they would be against nearly every other lightweight. But situations will still arise when he is on top of Edgar, and he needs to be more controlling and not allow Edgar to be mobile on the ground.

Neither fighter utilizes a submission game. Edgar presented quite a few opportunities for Maynard to end the fight in the first round with a submission, but he never took advantage of that. Both fighters are expected to go to a decision whenever they fight, with Edgar going to a decision in 10 of his last 12 matches. Meanwhile, Maynard has gone to a decision in 8 straight matches.

Look for the same to occur on Saturday. Maynard will more than likely look to utilize a similar gameplan from the second fight, because he feels it has already won him two bouts against Edgar. Now he knows he has no choice but to defeat him in the third matchup.

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