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Gray Maynard: Can He Ever Be Champion?

For much of his career, Jon Fitch was the perfect example of a fighter who staked him claim as the clear number two fighter in his division. Although he had only had one chance, it was clear that Fitch could never beat Georges St. Pierre. Kenny Florian also lost all three of his title fights and never became champion. Gray Maynard  also seems like a fighter who has the skills to be a very good fighter but not the best fighter in the world. On May 25, 2013, he takes on TJ Grant at UFC 160 for a shot at Benson Henderson’s belt.

Maynard does have a lot of things going for him in the lightweight division. He is stronger than everyone else in the division, which allows him to bully his opponents. His boxing is powerful when he sits down on his punches. The only reason Frankie Edgar survived in both title fights was his incredible ability to recover. Because of Maynard’s strength and wrestling pedigree, he is able to physically impose his will on his opponents. When he gets on top of most fighters, they aren’t getting back up.

Unfortunately, although Maynard is incredibly strong, he is also very slow. Every movement he makes is powerful but as a result, those movements are slow. Speed kills and Edgar used his speed to great effect against Maynard, especially in the later rounds of their fights. Furthermore, Maynard fought dumb fights in both of his bouts with Edgar, allowing the former champion to dart in and out without taking him down. He was also mentally unable to finish Edgar after knocking him down in the first round of both of their fights.

Maynard’s cardio in five round fights has been bad as well. Maynard would have to stop Benson Henderson if they were to fight in a five round fight and I can’t see Maynard outworking Henderson in the championship rounds. Maynard faded so badly in his second fight with Edgar that Edgar, who never knocks anyone out, was able to finish Maynard.

TJ Grant has a more dynamic skillset than Maynard. He is younger and faster which should play to his advantage. The fight itself should be fun and action packed but I can’t see Maynard ever becoming the man at lightweight.

Photo Credit – Joe Camporeale – USA Today Sports

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