by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
As the lightweight division awaits the next title defense by champion B.J. Penn in December, the list of contenders is constantly growing. The choice for the next top 155-pound contender could be crowned on Sept. 16 when Gray Maynard goes for his sixth win in a row when he faces Roger Huerta at UFC Fight Night 19 in Oklahoma.
Maynard’s string of wins includes victories over Frankie Edgar, Jim Miller, and Rich Clementi. He’s hoping to tack Huerta onto the list in what could be the budding actor’s final fight with the UFC. It’s no secret that Huerta has expressed his desire to venture onto the silver screen and the fight against Maynard is the last on his current fight contract.
“I’m a guy I keep out of drama and stuff like that,” Maynard told MMAWeekly Radio when asked if he was brought in specifically to send Huerta packing. “So if there’s anything like that going on, I keep out of it. I don’t get involved with nobody’s stuff.”
If the former “Ultimate Fighter” competitor can get the win over Huerta, he would likely top the list of fighters to get a shot at the winner of B.J. Penn and Diego Sanchez, but Maynard says it’s still a long road before that happens.
“Of course I’ve got to get the win, cause if not I don’t get anyone,” he commented. “I’m just trying to keep going, keep in the gym a lot. I had a scope on my knee after my last (fight) and so I was out for three or four weeks, but I was right back in the gym about halfway through April, so I’ve got a lot to learn still. Whenever it happens, it happens.
“The more time I can train and actually keep going I think it helps.”
One thing fans are guaranteed not to see after the bout between Maynard and Huerta is the Las Vegas based fighter asking for a title shot. He says that will never happen.
“I want it where they come to me and it’s like, ‘hey, we want this.’ I don’t want to have to ask, it’s like, ‘please Dana, Joe, give this to me, please,” Maynard said. “I hate asking for stuff. I’m not going to ask them for nothing. I want (them) to ask me, ‘hey, you’re doing great and it’s time.’ And of course I’ll say yes.”
First up though is the match-up with Huerta, who Maynard has studied quite a bit leading into this fight. Despite his opponent’s 12-plus month layoff, he feels he will be just as tough as always come Sept. 16.
“Huerta’s not a guy who’s technical, he’s a guy it’s all heart, and so (ring) rust on that, I don’t know if you have that too much. Huerta’s a guy who is all heart so I think he’ll be prepared,” Maynard stated.
The game plan for the upcoming fight is still under lock and key, but he knows the biggest rule when fighting Roger Huerta is to avoid getting sucked into his style of fight, which has been described as “brawl and maul.”
“You have to kind of check who he was going up against. You’ve got Clay (Guida), and he’s that type of fighter too. Everybody knew that was just going to be a crazy just dropping down, drag them out (kind of fight),” Maynard said about Huerta’s previous fights.
“Before Clay, I mean, he had some tough guys, but I don’t know if anybody had the time or the kind of skill to plan until of course Clay Guida, but his plan is to do the same thing as Huerta, just go in there, it’s all heart. Kenny Florian had a plan and so he did good, so I guess we’ll see.”
In his last fight, Maynard showed off the biggest improvement to his game when he out-boxed Jim Miller en route to a dominant decision win in March. He hopes to continue to develop all parts of his style to be the best fighter in the world.
“I just plan on trying to control it in every area,” Maynard stated. “You’ve got guys like GSP, he’s got it in all areas and we’re all trying to strive to get there. That’s the goal, to be good in every area and control it. Some guys try to be good, I want to be great in all areas.”
For the fight with Huerta, Maynard has worked with his regular crew at Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas, while working his boxing with coach Gil Martinez and jiu-jitsu with Robert Drysdale. At the end of the day, Maynard knows he’s got to put it all together to beat Roger Huerta.