Preview by Brady Crytzer
TIts been billed as a battle for validation and respect when UFC lightweight champion Frankie “The Answer” Edgar takes on Gray “The Bully” Maynard at UFC 125 on New Year’s Day. It will be a clash of very different wrestling styles as Edgar brings his endless gastank and incredible will against Maynard’s superior size and brute strength. Although most have already written off Edgar’s title reign as over in less than six months, the champion will be anxious to disprove his critics and it will show in his performance on Saturday . . . place your bets.
Striking: Although both men are still considered to be only a few steps above a pure wrestler, there still exists a glaring difference in stand-up competence; to view this difference best we must look at previous fights. In his last bout, the champion Edgar used quick hands and in-out movement to confuse, and even outstrike, BJ Penn. His punches weren’t terribly hard, but they were effective nonetheless. He was able to use them with enough consequence to keep Penn offbalance and set up his takedowns. Maynard on the otherhand has proven that if he lands cleanly he can deliver a big time KO, but in his decision win over Nate Diaz it became glaringly apparent that his boxing is extremely limited if facing a drawn out striking chess match.
With his crafty footwork and natural speed edge, Edgar will be able to land two or three short punches to every one that Maynard lands. If Maynard decides to box Frankie he will not find the homerun he is looking for and most likely find only frustration and bruising.
Grappling: Do not look for many submissions here, but preparing for an outstanding wrestling match-up of speed versus power. Those unfamiliar with wrestling as an art tend to view it in mixed martial arts as a singular form meant to hold down or stifle a wily opponent. This is true on many stylistic fronts, but when two very different wrestlers with two very different approaches square off it can be a beautiful thing. Maynard has the more accomplished collegiate background of the two and is a naturally bigger man. He will use superior size and strenght to pin Edgar into the cage and look for big bodylock takedowns.
Edgar will be forced to use his speed to avoid these situations and look for takedowns of his own, but that is a tall order against one of the most powerful grapplers in the division.
How They Match Up: Maynard holds a win over Frankie Edgar so many people are writing him off, but those same people said that Edgar didn’t have a prayer against BJ Penn.
As a reminder Edgar dominated Penn in their last bout.
This is a different Edgar we are seeing, and it’s a very similar Maynard.
This fight will undoubtedly go to a decision as neither man is known for his ability to finish, and the champion will retain his title.
As mentioned earlier, Frankie will not be able to take Maynard down in the center of the cage early in the fight. He will use his superior speed and boxing to land short punches on the challenger and break his concentration enough to score a takedown.
That scene will play itself out over five rounds of this fight; Maynard is game though and will make it competitive early.
Edgar: Unanimous Decision, 48-47.
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For more info on UFC 125, check out www.UFC.com