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Thrilling Match, Frustrating Result for Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard In Draw

LAS VEGAS – Coming into UFC 125, the main event lightweight championship matchup between Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard was not one that captured the imaginations of most MMA fans. By the time they were done, it was the talk of the MMA world.

Edgar overcame a disastrous first-round beating and staged an epic comeback to climb back into the match. After five hard-fought rounds, the pair both left unsatisfied after the cageside judges scored it a draw. Judge Marcos Rosales scored it 48-46 for the champ Edgar while judge Glen Trowbridge saw it the opposite way, Maynard 48-46. The third judge, Patricia Morse Jarman, had it 47-47.

"I did think I won the fight," Edgar said. "First round wasn't my round, but last four I think I won."

"I thought it was mine," Maynard echoed. "I thought I had the belt."

The fight, contested before 12,688 fans at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, seemed like it was destined to end early. Midway through the round, Maynard landed a left hook that floored Edgar for the first time in his UFC career. Maynard went for the kill, pouncing on the prone Edgar with a hellacious assault intended to finish.

Over the remaining two minutes-plus, Maynard connected on numerous strikes that hurt Edgar and sent him crashing to the canvas multiple times. But referee Josh Rosenthal, keeping a close eye on the action, never saw quite enough to call a halt.

Afterward, Maynard wondered whether the fight should have been stopped somewhere along the way.

"It could've been," he said. "He was all over the place. It could've been easily stopped, I thought."

At any rate, all three judges scored the round 10-8, giving Edgar a massive hole from which to climb out of.

Edgar said he didn't remember most of the first, but remembered Rosenthal telling him to keep moving.

Edgar took the advice to heart for the rest of the fight. While Maynard slowed down a bit, Edgar recovered and used his footwork and head movement to stay away from Maynard's power punches. The champion looked fresh right out of the gate in the second, and even hurt Maynard with a right cross that wobbled him.

"I had the team behind me," he said. "They coached me back to it. And I knew I had 20 minutes left in the fight. It's only five minutes that went by. It was a bad round for myself, but I felt I could bounce back in the next 20."

By the third, Edgar had cut Maynard around the left eye, and it was becoming clear it would be anyone's fight. Maynard got a bit flat-footed and looked for the home run punch while Edgar continued using his game plan. Just as importantly, Edgar did an excellent job stifling Maynard's vaunted takedown game. The former Michigan State wrestling All-American only secured two of 12 takedown tries.

Maynard admitted that he became one-dimensional in the late rounds after hurting Edgar early.

"I was swinging for fences," he said. "That's like sprinting and I had to pull back. I felt tired. I had to ease back a little bit, and I got going again in round three. I was trying to knock him out that whole round. He's a tough kid. My hat's off to him, but I thought it was my fight."

The fifth round was the pivotal one on the judges scorecards. According to Compustrike, Edgar outlanded Maynard 32-20 in the round, and stuffed all six of Maynard's takedown attempts, yet judges Jarman and Trowbridge scored it for Maynard.

MMA Fighting scored the fight for Edgar, 48-46, giving him rounds 2-5.

"To end a fight in a draw is bittersweet," Edgar said. "You didn't win, but you didn't lose."

"I want that belt," Maynard added. "A draw is a draw. I thought that was my fight. I thought I had that. I thought the belt was mine."

While many fans hoped to see an immediate rematch given the close battle, the UFC initially announced that it would forgo it, in favor of giving a title match to WEC champion Anthony Pettis, as they promised him before his recent title win over Ben Henderson. The decision was announced by UFC vice president Craig Borsari, who filled in for UFC president Dana White at the post-fight press conference.

When told he would be bypassed, Maynard's head sunk low.

"It doesn't feel good," He said. "I thought it was my fight. I thought I had the belt. I worked off my ass for his. I don't know. I guess it kind of hurt [to hear]."

Edgar, who retains the belt with a draw, said he couldn't even think about facing Pettis. He said he was mulling over a visit to the hospital after leaving the post-fight press conference. But after thinking about it, he quickly had other thoughts on what he'd like to do next.

"I probably would [like to face Maynard again]," he said. "To have a little more closure would be nice. He has a win over me, and now a draw. For me, I would like to have the opportunity to fight him again."

The wish was granted. Within a few hours, White changed his mind and decided that Edgar-Maynard III would come before Pettis gets his crack at the belt. That, at least, left for one satisfying conclusion following a fight that had none.

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