April 14, 2010
He's nicknamed is "The Bully" but he's really a pussycat outside of the cage. For that reason, even Gray Maynard knows he's probably screwed when it comes to getting the first shot at Frank Edgar's UFC lightweight title. B.J. Penn released a video Tuesday saying the promotion had already called to say they were working on a rematch. Meanwhile fans are scratching their heads saying, "Wait, Penn just lost, Maynard is unbeaten with a win over Edgar, why isn't he getting the shot?" Maynard knows why.
"I came from [wrestling] where it was a tournament, everytime you win you go ahead," said Maynard, who wrestled collegiately at Michigan State. "There's no talking involved. So I didn't really understand that deal."
Maynard said it started to dawn on him at the start of 2010 as a potential Penn title fight developed on the horizon. That shot was between himself and Edgar. Maynard now says he needed to be a lot more aggressive with the media and the promotion before his fight against Nate Diaz. But Maynard didn't want to look ahead and didn't want to get down on his knees and beg for his shot.
"I needed to be out there saying, 'I want Penn, I want Penn, I want Penn," admits Maynard.
Maynard won a decision but in the postfight, he and his mentor Randy Couture chose to take a grounded approach toward a Penn fight and didn't want to call him out. Dana White responded a few days later saying he wasn't sold on Maynard and Edgar would get the next crack.
Maynard did step it up a bit this week immediately doing several interviews after UFC 112, texting UFC matchmaker Joe Silva and going on Twitter but Maynard said he hadn't really laid the groundwork the last few years to grab that title shot. A more aggressive approach right after his win against Diaz in January at Ultimate Fight Night 20 could've paid dividends this week. It was surprising to hear Maynard and mentor Couture take a laid back approach.
It's lesson learned for both of Xtreme Couture's top level lightweights, Maynard and Tyson Griffin. You may not like or be comfortable with what guys like Chael Sonnen, Dan Hardy, Josh Koscheck and the Diaz Brothers do as far as calling out opponents and dishing some dirt, but it's a necessary evil to push yourself forward. It is the fight business and sometimes matching up two nice guys is bad for business.
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