|Posted by Mark Figula on November 5, 2010 at 12:56 AM|
By Mark Figula, The Mouth of MMA Senior Editor
Theodore Roosevelt once summarized his policies with the slogan, "Speak softly and carry a big stick." It worked quite well for him in his political career, but some might argue that the same policy doesn't work so well in the game of MMA self promotion. For the fans of Gray Maynard, his 10 - 0 record is the proof of a big stick. For his detractors, his lack of self blustering promotion and calm demeanor make the UFC's #1 lightweight contender something less than a big ratings draw. As you will see below however, the man set to fight Frankie Edgar for the title on New Year's Day is not afraid to speak up at all.
Mark Figula for TheMouthofMMA.com: It's been a long time coming to finally get the title shot and your fans are all excited for it. Did you think it would take this long after you had finished up with The Ultimate Fighter?
Gray Maynard: I never really put a time limit on when I'll get a title shot. I just focused on what I needed to do everyday to make it happen. I really appreciate everyone that has stood by me so far on this journey, we still got a long way to go. I want to get the belt and hold on to it for a long time.
Mark Figula: It'll be almost three years since you fought and defeated Frankie Edgar when you face him for the title. What part of his game do you think has changed the most since then? What part of yours?
Gray Maynard: I don't really see any drastic changes to his game. He's just improved on everything that he already did before. But as far as his style of fighting, he's still the same guy.
Mark Figula: Usually it's your superior wrestling that gives you the greatest advantage over your opponents. What do you feel in the upcoming fight gives you the edge?
"I feel wherever the fight goes, I'm gonna win."
Gray Maynard: I feel wherever the fight goes, I'm gonna win.
Mark Figula: In an interview with MMA Weekly before the Florian fight, you said "I don't think anybody can keep me from taking them down." Do you feel a wrestler of your caliber is also going to get you down at some point in a fight, or do you feel you will get and stop any take downs in a given fight?
Gray Maynard: Yeah, I feel confident in my takedown defense. But I'd be dumb to think I'll never get taken down. That's why I prepare for anything that can happen in a fight.
Mark Figula: The lightweight divisions outside the UFC are pretty well stacked these days. Who do you think is the best non-UFC lightweight and where would you rank him if he was in the UFC?
"MMA rankings are all bullshit anyways.
Paper don't fight paper..."
Gray Maynard: You got names like Gilbert Melendez, Eddie Alvarez, and Josh Thompson. Now that the UFC and WEC merged there's not many others outside of the UFC. MMA rankings are all bullshit anyways. Basically it's a bunch of people that think they know about fighting saying, "well on paper, fighter A can beat fighter B." It's usually backed by some stupid reasoning too. Well, I got news for them: Paper don't fight paper and you never know who's better until fighter A and fighter B actually fight. It's just used as a tool for discussion. That's it, which is perfectly fine, but if you're a fighter you shouldn't worry about that shit at all. So that's why I wouldn't put an actual rank on any of those guys.
Mark Figula: Who outside the UFC would you most like to fight?
Gray Maynard: I really don't like looking beyond my next opponent. The only face that pops up in my mind when it comes to fighting, is Frank Edgar. That's just the way I am. I focus on the task at hand and deal with whatever else might come up after the fight.
Mark Figula: If you win the title and hold it for some time, would you ever consider going up and going for a welterweight shot?
Gray Maynard: I'll cross that bridge when it comes.
Mark Figula: From your standpoint as a world class fighter, where you surprised at the outcome of the Velasquez - Lesnar fight?
"Lesnar is a great athlete, but he needs to
focus on sharpening up some of his MMA skills."
Gray Maynard: I know both of them personally and they are great guys. Lesnar is a great athlete, but he needs to focus on sharpening up some of his MMA skills. He's still relatively new to the sport, so it wasn't a big surprise. Once he gets that area taken care of, he'll be a big threat to the heavyweight division. He's accomplished so much in the sport with what he's got. Cain on the other hand as exceptional skills for a heavyweight, he's going to be tough to beat for a long time. His biggest test is coming up next with Junior Dos Antos. They are both unbelievable MMA fighters. It's really an interesting match up.
Mark Figula: Do you think Cain will defend that title for a long time or will the heavyweight title bounce around for awhile?
Gray Maynard: Like I said his toughest test is coming up next against Junior, but it wouldn't surprise me at all if he held the belt for a long time.
Mark Figula: Assuming GSP wins his next fight, do you think a fight with Shields would go GSP's way too?
"GSP has to get past Kos first."
Gray Maynard: GSP has to get past Kos first. That's not gonna be an easy fight for him. I would actually like to see Shields get another fight in the UFC, before a title shot. Not for any other reason then to let him get comfortable in the octagon and the UFC. I can understand there was a lot of pressure on him for his last fight, now it's going to be double that. But, if he's up to it, that's great. It's hard to turn down a title shot. I'm just speaking from what I would want if I was in his shoes.
Mark "The Ezequiel" Figula is the biggest wuss to ever enter a cage... the most spindly chickenass dude to ever tap out at NAGA... the boy who was told that the pen is mightier than the sword... and thus he writes. Check out his home page of scribblings at www.markfigula.com.