One thing is clear after Saturday’s fight: it is tough to be a judge. Just looking at how some of MMAFrenzy.com’s staff scored the bout, you get an even greater picture of how close it was (48-46 Edgar, 48-47 Edgar, 48-47 Maynard, and 47-47). The actual judges scored it 48-46 Edgar, 48-46 Maynard, and 47-47, resulting in a split draw.
Ironically, the first draw caused by a 10-8 round in UFC history happened less than a month ago at UFC 124 and here we have a second already. The amazing part about this 10-8 round is that it occurred at the beginning of the bout. So how did Edgar manage to claw his way back to a draw and almost a victory?
The answer is not just that Edgar has the fortitude of a champion, because that much is obvious. So let us first look at the stats for the bout via FightMetric.com
Pure dominance by Maynard, where he lands 47 of 81 strikes to only 10 of 24 from Edgar with two takedowns and two knockdowns to boot. In short… pure domination.
The second was one of the biggest swings in a fight I have ever seen. Edgar swings the fight in his favor by controlling all aspects with 21 of 50 to Maynard’s 6 of 31, securing his only takedown attempt and blocking both of Maynard’s tries.
Easily the closest round of the fight. Edgar controlled the striking landing 23 of 48 strikes with Maynard landing 17 of 32. What is tricky is the ground game. Edgar stuffed Maynard twice while being taken down twice. Edgar also secured a solid guillotine attempt as time expired.
The fourth round was all Edgar again, 23 strikes landed to just 7 by Maynard. Edgar also secured 2 of 5 takedowns as well.
Round 5 was clearly a “who wants it more” type round both were throwing shots (Edgar 20-16) that rarely landed and both failing on takedowns with Edgar missing 3 and Maynard on 7.
So what can we gather from that? Well a few things stand out (other than just the first round mauling) those being the 2nd and 4th rounds which were technically very one-sided, and there is the absolutely huge drop off in offense from Maynard (about 50% of his offense came in the 1st). So how does this happen after such a great first round for Maynard?
It breaks down simply to a mistake by Maynard, he got overaggressive, and it wore him out. One possible explanation for this is that Maynard is sick of the talk that he cannot finish fights. Maynard tried his best in this bout to finish in that first round and (more to Edgar’s credit than a Maynard failure) just could not do it. So, what does he try to do in the second? He attempts to put away the wounded champion, and it nearly costs him any chance at the fight when he ended up swinging at air most of the second round. To be honest, Maynard owes it big to Randy Couture for correcting the issue with Maynard after the second. Since in the third, Maynard improved his performance.
So now we have the third round, which I will admit I gave to Edgar and here is why, Edgar controlled the striking and kept Maynard off base for most of the round. When Maynard did get Frankie down, he landed no strikes whatsoever and Edgar escaped one and then guillotined Maynard on the second one. While Fightmetric gives more credit to Maynard for the round, I firmly believe this proves some flaws in the formula. For one, Maynard did nothing with the takedowns and in reality; the second takedown was more a continuation of the first one (in wrestling no new points would be awarded). Add in the fact the guillotine was tight and I have a hard time giving the round to Maynard. Of course, the fourth was a clear round for Edgar and the fifth I had to go with Edgar since he landed more strikes and negated all of Maynard’s seven takedown tries.
So, what does Maynard need to do in preparation for his next fight? The answer is not more cardio. It is trying to focus himself and work on his game plan to the point where that is the only thing Gray can think of. It is true he does not pick up many finishes and has at times been less than exciting fighter, but that is why he is undefeated. Maynard threw so much in the first two rounds that he essentially left himself spent for the rest of the fight. The new headlock that he had been working on was ineffective late in the fight because he had little left in his arms by that point. Maynard has to get back to Maynard in the rematch, it may not be pretty, but it is effective. If only because he has proved that when he tries to finish, he makes mistakes.
In the end, we are left with a classic fight in a bout that no one truly predicted would be this exciting. The champion showed he has the heart of a champion and the challenger proved to be up to the challenge. While I would prefer to see Dana held to his word on the promised title shots, this is a situation where an immediate rematch is needed. If one thing is certain for the next fight, it is that I do not envy the judges.