Gray Maynard withstood the champion’s furious comeback. | Photo: Sherdog.com
As round three began, it looked like Edgar had emphatically turned the tide of the fight. He landed a kick and a straight right punch to the chin early, and he followed with a body kick and a leg kick. Maynard continued to look slower than Edgar, and the champion easily blocked a takedown attempt at 2:49.
While Edgar was effective early, the momentum shifted halfway through the round. Maynard connected with a left hook and then a pair of straight lefts. He caught an Edgar kick and went for a takedown, but the champion successfully defended it. Maynard responded by going back to his boxing with a left hook and a right hook that was the best punch of the round at 1:25.
Answering back, Edgar connected with a left hook of his own and a right leg kick. Maynard caught an Edgar kick and pulled him to the ground with 39 seconds left in the round. Edgar worked his way back up, but Maynard slammed him back to the canvas. This led to one of the only submission exchanges of the fight. Edgar looked for a guillotine, but Maynard avoided it as time elapsed in the round.
The first close frame of the fight, Edgar controlled the early part of it and Maynard generally got the better of the latter part. Edgar also had the submission attempt as time ran out. Watching live in the building, I scored the round for Edgar. Re-watching it a few times on DVD, I re-scored it for Maynard on the basis of greater damage with his heavier punches. Judges Rosales and Morse-Jarman scored it 10-9 Edgar, while Judge Trowbridge scored it 10-9 Maynard.
Maynard opened round four with a couple jabs, but, at 4:45, Edgar quickly took down the challenger. Maynard worked his way back up, but Edgar grabbed a guillotine choke in the process. Edgar cranked the choke before eventually giving up on it. He then landed a knee and a couple of punches and backed up.
While Maynard was able to get back up, he was caught immediately with an overhand right. Maynard attempted a slow takedown of his own, which Edgar blocked. Edgar then landed a straight right to the chin and avoided Maynard’s lunging power punches. As the round progressed, Edgar started to slow. The decided speed edge from earlier in the fight went away, and Edgar started throwing with less frequency. Maynard blocked a pair of Edgar takedowns, but the champion landed a little jab and a leg kick at the end of the round.
This round was not like the second, where Maynard’s lethargy prevented him from engaging. Maynard was in it; Edgar was simply better. All three judges scored the round 10-9 for Edgar -- clearly the proper decision.
With Edgar’s speed edge less pronounced, round five was probably the closest and most competitive of the entire fight. Maynard landed a jab and hook early, with Edgar answering with a nice leg kick. They then traded jabs and hooks. The best punch of the early round came at 3:28 when Maynard caught Edgar with his familiar left hook to the head.
Maynard attempted a takedown that was blocked, and Edgar punished him with a knee. Edgar then landed a nice punch combination and a knee to the body. Edgar followed with a left hook to the chin that connected well.
As the round winded down, both men recognized that a takedown could be the difference in a judges’ decision. Maynard attempted one, which Edgar stuffed, and then champion went for a takedown, which the challenger also successfully defended. At 1:16 Edgar landed his best combination of the round: an uppercut and hook that snapped Maynard’s head up and then to the side. He followed with another great straight right. The two men exchanged wild punches to close the fight, and the crowd exploded in applause as both men raised their hands.
The judges were again split on this round. Judge Rosales had it 10-9 for Edgar, while judges Trowbridge and Morse-Jarman had it 10-9 for Maynard. Watching it live, I scored the round 10-9 for Maynard. Re-watching, I scored it 10-9 for Edgar. FightMetric gave Edgar the 20-16 edge in total strikes, and the champion connected with more power relative to other rounds while Maynard connected with less.
Judging the fight in total, round one was either 10-8 Maynard or 10-7 Maynard. Round two was 10-9 Edgar. Round three was 10-9 Edgar, 10-9 Maynard or a 10-10 draw. Round 4 was 10-9 Edgar. Round 5 was 10-9 Edgar, 10-9 Maynard or a 10-10 draw. This leaves a wide range of justifiable scores, explaining the great debate about what the final tally should have been.
Rosales went with Edgar, 48-46, Trowbridge with Maynard, 48-46, and Morse-Jarman ruled it a 47-47 draw. Scoring for Sherdog.com, Jordan Breen had the bout 47-46 for Edgar, Mike Whitman had the bout 48-47 for Maynard and TJ De Santis had the bout a 47-47 deadlock. Scoring for the Los Angeles Times, I had the bout 47-46 for Maynard. Amongst those seven scores, remarkably only two were identical and all were justifiable.
Following the bout, Craig Borsari announced in the post-fight press conference that Anthony Pettis would receive the next title shot against Edgar. A despondent Maynard was left to lament a fight he thought he had won and a title opportunity that had gone up in smoke. Wisely, the UFC reconsidered and decided to give Maynard an immediate rematch, in addition to “Fight of the Night” and win bonuses that rewarded him and Edgar for a classic battle.
A rematch win does not erase the result of a previous loss or draw. Edgar and Maynard will battle for a third time with the UFC lightweight title on the line in Houston, and the winner will come out feeling a lot better than the loser. However, it will not alter the magic of their UFC 125 bout, nor will it erase the debate over the true winner on that night.