It seems like just yesterday lightweight Gray Maynard was inches from victory in two title clashes with Frankie Edgar. The former Division 1 All-American rode his “bully” style to the top of the division, presenting a dangerous mix of physical wrestling and relatively refined boxing.
Nearly seven years later, many are calling for his retirement.
Is Gray Maynard fighting for his career at UFC 229?
In the first round of both epic Edgar encounters, Maynard had his way, badly hurting Frankie. Ultimately he was outworked and outmaneuvered. Edgar’s speed, cardio, volume and precision over five rounds were too much to handle.
It’s been all downhill from there. After eeking out a win in the worst fight of all time against Clay Guida, Maynard suffered three consecutive ugly knockout losses. He was mixing up his training, varying his approach, but no matter what his opponents found his chin.
But as he lost, matchmaking became more forgiving. Maynard is no longer fighting to be a “player” in the lightweight division, but to be a career mixed martial artist. After competing for so long, it’s clear he has no intention of going away quietly.
Gray has leaned on the takedown in wins against Fernando Bruno and Teruto Ishihara to go 2-1 in his last three, but at this stage in the game, any fight could be his last.
On the biggest card of the year, you can find two veteran wrestlers on the early Fight Pass Prelims. Minnesota’s Nik Lentz never reached the heights of title contention, but has stuck around for nearly 10 years without any serious losing streaks.
Lentz is a grinding wrestler, leaning on his patented guillotine whenever he gets the opportunity. His striking isn’t particularly effective, but can Maynard risk another knockout loss? He will need to force Lentz to lead, and find his spots to initiate grappling from the clinch, where Lentz’s guillotine is a non-factor.
A former pupil of Randy Couture, there is no telling how long Gray Maynard will continue to fight. We wish him a safe contest and healthy life ahead of his UFC 229 bout on Saturday, October 6th.
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