Gray Maynard Thinks Nate Diaz Will Win Belt; Gunning for Trilogy & TUF 17 Slot

August 16, 2012
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Gray Maynard at UFC 125The UFC lightweight division has been in a bottleneck in terms of the contenders race due to several rematches and one draw that forced a lot of top fighters to wait for their chance to compete for the gold.

Gray Maynard was right in the thick of it because he was involved in a draw with Frankie Edgar last January, which led to a rematch between the two lightweights last October.

Unfortunately, Maynard came out on the wrong end of his last fight with Edgar, forcing the former Michigan State wrestler to rethink a few things in his life.

He moved from Las Vegas to California, leaving behind his former team and coaches, and began training full time with American Kickboxing Academy. He also took some serious time off to recover an ailing body that hampered him leading into the rematch with Edgar in October of last year.

Now healthy in both mind and body, Maynard is coming off of a win over Clay Guida in June and he’s once again gunning for that top spot. Maynard was just an onlooker when the lightweight title was last defended on Saturday at UFC 150, and while it wasn’t advantageous to his own career for Frankie Edgar to recapture the belt, he still believed that Edgar should have gotten the nod.

“I thought Edgar pulled it out, but whenever, it’s a close one; the judges, it’s all up to them I guess,” Maynard told MMAWeekly Radio. “He pulled out a couple close ones against B.J. (Penn) and me and then he had this one; it was close, so it could go either way I guess.”

Maynard lost his last fight with Edgar in 2011 and he knew as long as the New Jersey native held onto the belt, he probably wouldn’t get another shot at the gold for quite some time, if ever. Now with the belt in Benson Henderson’s hands, the doors are once again open to a title run for Gray Maynard.

Maynard has never faced Henderson, but he does have history with the champ’s next opponent, Nate Diaz. During season 5 of The Ultimate Fighter, Diaz submitted Maynard to advance to the finals of the reality show. Maynard got his revenge at a UFC Fight Night in 2010 when he beat Diaz by split decision.

“It opens up things for me. It opens up things for (Anthony) Pettis because he beat Benson. If Nate beats him, that opens it up for me more because there’s a trilogy. He beat me once and I beat him, so we could do the third fight. There’s a lot of options,” Maynard stated.

Maynard makes no bones about wanting the winner in the fight between Benson Henderson and Nate Diaz, but he believes that a trilogy could be in his future after UFC on Fox 5 finishes on Dec. 8.

“Nate’s on a roll; I think he’ll pull it out,” Maynard said about the fight between Henderson and Diaz. “If he does, I know he was begging for me for a long time, but for me I was looking at the title and that’s a fight that would be a great fight for the title. I’d like to do the TV show against him if that’s the case.”

The TV show is The Ultimate Fighter, which kicks off season 16 in September with coaches Roy Nelson and Shane Carwin. If Diaz is successful in defeating Henderson, Maynard hopes to land the season 17 slot and settle the rubber match with the man who originally eliminated him from the show more than five years ago.

If The Ultimate Fighter happens for Maynard, it would likely mean him sitting out for the better part of eight to 10 months with filming and waiting to fight, but right now, he’s only interested in the biggest fights possible against the best opponents.

It doesn’t get much bigger or better than fighting for the UFC lightweight title.

“For me as of now, it’s about going up against the top guys. Like I don’t care about paydays, and stuff like that. Right now it’s about beating the top guys and getting the belt,” said Maynard.

“I did a lot of work all the way till now and I’m at the top. I need that belt, and I switched up a lot of stuff to do that. I changed gyms, did everything I could, so when the opportunity happens I’ll be prepared for it.”

If Maynard doesn’t land the shot against the winner of Henderson vs. Diaz, there is still one long-standing grudge he would love to settle. He believes there is still unfinished business with Frankie Edgar, and that would be another opportunity to coach on the reality show and then put their rivalry to bed.

“I would love that fight still. He’s a tough kid; there’s a TV show in that. That’s No. 4 and that doesn’t happen very often, and it’s been back and forth. He pulled out the last bout that we had, it happens, but that’s a good story as well,” Maynard said.

“That fight interests me; I want that to be done. The belt of course is my goal. It’s a good spot to be in. That’s all I care about: top guys, good fights.”

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  • Mario

    I wouldn’t mind seeing Maynard fight Diaz again, assuming he wins against Benson.

    If that fight ever happens it would technically be their (2nd) fight. That fight on the Ultimate Fighter was an Exhibition bout. Maynard and Diaz hate each other, so that would be a great one to watch. Especially with a title on the line.

    • lfighterc

      It would seem just by watching these 2 fight that Maynard would destroy Diaz, cause Diaz’s balance is awful, he’s always off balance when he fights( in the Cerrone fight he fell to the ground around three times) and Maynard being a wrestler would take advantage of that and easily take him down. but every time every time i watch Diaz he wins decisively. so i would pick Diaz in this fight

  • smill0313

    Maynard drops to featherweight and coaches opposite Edgar on TUF for a shot at Aldo. Cerrone vs Pettis gets the next #1 spot at LW.

    • That would be sick but Maynard cuts good weight at LW as it is. The LW division is just stacked with great fights. The only bad thing about Cerrone vs Pettis for #1 spot is that Nate beat him so recently and a rematch so fast might not be big draw. And I love cowboy too don’t get me wrong. The LW div needs a high level striker to take on Edgar. I’m tired of seeing him in rematches. Not his fault its kind of a good thing only b/c nobody has been able to dominate him or stop him.

    • markrenton

      I can tell you right now that there is no possible way Gray will be able to make 145. I knew him when we wrestled in college when he was cutting big weight to make 157lbs. Frankie is the only one that I can see dropping to FW, and if he did that it would only be to fight Aldo.

      Either way there is going to be a lot of really good LW fights coming up. Keep in mind that Eddie Alvarez is also more than likely going to be thrown into the mix in the near future too. Hopefully after Gil Melendez fights Pat Healy Dana can find a way to bring him over as well. If the UFC can grab Melendez and Alvarez, the LW division would be just amazing.

    • RonnieV

      Maynard is not dropping to Featherweight. I’ve met Maynard a couple times in Vegas, and it shocks me that he can get down to 155. He sheds a lot of weight, probably 25 lbs to get down to lightweight.

    • smill0313

      I know guys, I just thought it would be an interesting “what if” scenario.

      @combat: I think Cerrone is def not only a great fighter, but also an exciting one. With that said, I think Pettis takes it (29-28).

      The LW division is so deep that it is the only division where ANYBODY in the top 10 could be the new champ on the right night. I cant say that about any other division.

    • MrAdidas

      I heard Maynard use to walk around close to 200lbs, I cant beleive he fights @ LW. I guess he cuts the eight the right way, b/c he doesnt look like death at the weigh ins & he has good cardio for 5 rounds. I hope Maynard doesnt think he gets the winner of Diaz & Henderson, b/c that would be STUPID. His last fight vs. Guida was a joke, he should have to fight another top 10 fighter & look impressive to be considered the #1 contender, let alone be the next guy in line. Especially with Pettis & Cerone in the mix.

      How Maynard thinks he doesnt need to fight again to become the #1 contender is laughable, maybe Edgar’s KO really did a number on his brain, b/c his thinking is not that of a clear minded fighter. He’s 1-1-1 in his last 3 fights & his last win was a SNOOZE fest, yet he thinks he deserves a title shot b4 Pettis & Cerone?!? Ughhh NO!

  • I think Maynard needs to start finishing fights before he gets another title fight…he’s 11-1 in his career and has finished ONLY 2 fights…every other fight was a decision, 5 split 4 unanimous. This proves he has great cardio, but thats it. I think that 2 fighters with similar records that are close to a title shot…the fighter with more finished fights should get the nod.

    Ive never been a fan of Maynards because of the fact that he doesn’t finish fights. I think that wins need to be some sort of system in the rankings. You finish a fight you get XX points, a decision gives you less. I just don’t think a fighter should be able to decision their way to the title.

    • RonnieV

      He hasn’t finished, but he tries to finish. He has had some wars in the Octagon, that were far from boring.

      Your scoring system would be flawed, because some of the best fights in MMA history were five round wars that ended in a decision.

      • Hopefully every fighter trys to finish a fight…if not they should be cut immediately. And yes he’s had some good fights…but only 1 FoN bonus and that was against Edgar who I think made that fight exciting.

        I never said the system would be perfect…but it will help clean up these log jams at the top of alot of these divisions. If you do a ranking system, there can’t be an argument of who is the best. Plus I think it will make for better fights. If fighters know that a finish will get them a title fight, but a decision will give it to someone else then they will go balls out to get the finish. I think it could be very motivating.

        • elguapo

          I like the idea in theory, however I see a flaw. If I was the third ranked fighter and I beat someone like Edgar, Pettis or whoever in a hard fought decision, yet the guy one place below me finished someone like Varner or Wiman or whatever, I’d be pretty disappointed when they went above me in the rankings. Not trying to be an arse, but I think there needs to be an element of opinion in setting the big fights rather than simply points. Two years ago you would have had the situation where Fitch would be getting every other shot at GSP, and nobody would want to see that!

  • browill70

    As long as Maynard keeps winning, he and Ben Henderson are on a collision course.

  • bigwurm

    I want to see new blood in there getting a shot at the belt, let pettis get the winner.

  • bajafox

    Unfortunately his fight with Clay did absolutely nothing for him as far as being able to make a statement to be the next #1 contender. By no fault of Maynards of course.

  • silent_nick

    Please no on TUF 17. That division has already been held up by years of immediate rematches. It doesn’t need to be held up any longer. If they want to do a Maynard/Edgar TUF, I’d be down for that as long as it wasn’t for the belt itself. Keep the contenders coming!

  • mod777

    I think he wants Nate Diaz to win because he finds it an easier fight to win since they already fought once and he beats Nate. He thinks Diaz will win and he hopes Diaz will win.