But this time, rather than going the distance for a draw like the two did in January, Edgar got out of the first, controlled the pace of the fight in the second and third, and in the fourth he dropped Maynard with a right and finished him on the ground. One of the best rivalries of the year finally had a finish – with an exclamation point – at UFC 136 in Houston.
Edgar's fourth-round TKO in the lightweight championship main event earned him $75,000 for Knockout of the Night – the night's only KO stoppage. Joining him with $75,000 bonuses were Joe Lauzon for Submission of the Night and Nam Phan and Leonard Garcia for Fight of the Night.
It was like deja vu for Edgar and Maynard in the first round. Just like their second fight at UFC 125 on Jan. 1, Maynard dominated the first, dropping Edgar with big shots on the feet. In January, it was a decisive 10-8 round for Maynard that Edgar had to come back from. On Saturday, just one just, Doug Crosby, gave a 10-8 to Maynard, while the other two scored it a standard 10-9.
Still, Edgar had to go into rally mode with his face bloodied to start the second round. Maynard was decidedly more cautious in the second and third rounds, both of which saw Edgar controlling the tempo and landing decent shots on the feet. But deep in the fourth round, Edgar landed a right uppercut that stunned Maynard, followed it with several more rights on the feet that put Maynard on the canvas, and then finished with several big shots on the ground.
The end came at 3:54 of the fourth, and Edgar retained his lightweight title. It also gave him a win over Maynard in his third try. In the pair's first fight, in April 2008, Maynard won a unanimous decision. After Edgar won the lightweight title from BJ Penn and defended it in their rematch, he defended it against Maynard at UFC 125 – and the two fought to a rare title match draw. Finally with some closure, Edgar's next opponent will be just his third in more than two years after a steady diet of Penn and Maynard the last four fights.
Lauzon's Submission of the Night was also the card's biggest upset. It came just 47 seconds into the first round against Melvin Guillard, who was riding a five-fight winning streak and came into the fight a more than 5-to-1 favorite. Guillard came out bouncing around and looking to land big shots, but a left from Lauzon stunned Guillard, and Lauzon pounced, quickly took Guillard's back and sank in a fight-ending rear naked choke.
Amazingly, Lauzon now has won six straight fight night bonus awards and seven in his last eight fights. He has four submission bonuses and three Fight of the Night awards in that stretch. He also won Submission of the Night in June, a first-round kimura against Curt Warburton.
Lauzon's only competition for the Submission of the Night award came from Chael Sonnen, whose second-round arm triangle choke of Brian Stann probably earned him another shot at middleweight champion Anderson Silva. Sonnen called Silva out after the fight and said that he wants to up the stakes. Sonnen proposed that if he wins and takes the middleweight title, which he nearly did in August 2010, Silva should have to leave the 185-pound division. And if Sonnen loses, he said he will leave the UFC forever.
At the post-fight press conference, UFC president Dana White said it was tough to choose between Lauzon and Sonnen for Submission of the Night, but he ultimately gave it to Lauzon because Lauzon was such a heavy underdog and he rocked the favorite so quickly in the first round.
The Fight of the Night may had checks written for it the day it was announced. Phan and Garcia fought to a controversial split decision win for Garcia at the TUF 12 Finale in December. A rematch was booked for March, but Phan was injured. And when Phan's original UFC 136 opponent, Matt Grice (who replaced Josh Grispi) was forced out, Garcia stepped in.
In what amounted to a continuation of their first fight, Phan and Garcia again had moments of a backyard brawl. But Phan was more accurate and controlled the pace in the first two rounds, landing more consistently. Garcia may have been on his way to a possible 10-8 third round, but Phan did enough to stay in the round and won a 29-28 unanimous decision.
Both Phan-Garcia fights have been Fight of the Night winners, and while Phan said after the fight he doesn't want to do No. 3, Garcia said if the fight could be in Houston, in his native Texas, he'd gladly do a trilogy fight.