Test Image CommentsUFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar kept his title with a draw after a five-round struggle with challenger Gray Maynard on Saturday.
Edgar may not have avenged his only loss but did manage to stave off Maynard’s attacks while maintaining composure under fire before 12,688 fans at the MGM Grand. Ultimate Fighting Championship 125 boomed out the New Year with a kaboom.
Despite two victories over legendary BJ Penn, the critics still weren’t convinced of Edgar’s abilities. Well some answers came and some questions remain unanswered.
The New Jersey lightweight took a pummeling in the first round as he attempted takedowns and instead was met with punches. It didn’t look good for the shorter Edgar who lost to Maynard several years ago.
Round two saw Edgar concentrate more on punching and moving than take downs and the results were more favorable. Maynard took some good blows from the shorter foe and his eye looked the worse for it.
Maynard found Edgar’s nose with a left hook that drew blood but both had their moments in a back and forth round three.
A takedown by Edgar didn’t draw a point as Maynard rebounded back to his feet quickly in round four. Maynard tried to fight blow for blow with Edgar but the steam had come off his punches. Edgar fired the sharper blows but by the end of the round the Jersey fighter was also tiring.
The final round saw Edgar explode on Maynard with a three-punch combination and followed up by a left hook to the body and right to the head. Maynard countered with a right and tried for multiple takedowns that proved ineffective. Edgar countered with left hooks and an uppercut. Maynard continued to press forward but neither fighter had a clear advantage.
The judges scored it 48-46, Edgar, 48-46 Maynard, 47-47 a draw.
Brian Stann (10-3) knocked out Chris “The Crusher” Leben (21-7) at 3:37 of the first round of a middleweight fight. An overhand right was the beginning of the end for Leben whose sturdy chin could not absorb the big blows coming his way. Finally a knee and a flurry of blows forced the referee to halt the onslaught. Stann, a former US Marine, is finding more success at the lower weight class.
Brazil’s Thiago Silva (15-2) proved to Brandon Vera (11-6) that even dropping down in weight would not give him an advantage as he thoroughly and convincingly defeated the American now fighting at light heavyweight. All three judges gave the decision to Silva who simply out-fought Vera in every round. “I train everything from wrestling to Muay Thai and the whole fight I was trying to finish the fight. I let my hands go. I love the clinch and that’s the place I want to be,” said Silva. “He said he was going to knock me out and I felt like he was disrespecting me.”
South Korea’s Don Hyun Kim (14-0-1) won a unanimous decision over Nate Diaz (13-6) after three rounds of a welterweight fight. All three judges scored it 29-28 but many saw it the reverse. “I wasn’t able to charge my stun gun this time, but for sure next time I will charge my stun gun,” Kim said.
Clay Guida (28-8) tapped out Japan’s Takanori Gomi (32-7) at 4:27 of the second round of a lightweight battle. Guida used a guillotine choke to force the Japanese fighter to submit. “Before I was in the UFC I was known as a submission guy. So I know I can pull a submission off when I need it,” he said.
Jeremy Stephens (19-6) won a hard fought lightweight battle over Marcus “The Irish Hand Grenade” Davis (22-9) by knockout at 2:33 of the third and final round. Both had their moments with each displaying firepower and a willingness to exchange. “I knew with Marcus that he creates a lot of problems, but I had the solution. I knew I was younger, faster, stronger but I felt how strong he is and how well he moved with his boxing. You could tell he was a boxer,” said Stephens. “Third round I knew I had to go for the knockout. Either knock out or get knocked out.”
Dustin Poirier (9-1) won a unanimous decision victory over Josh Grispi (14-2) in a featherweight bout. All three judges gave Poirier all three rounds.
Hawaii’s Brad Tavares (6-1) won by technical knockout over Phil “The New York Badass” Baroni (13-13) in a free for all middleweight bash. Baroni was the early aggressor but ran into a right hand that forced the referee to stop the fight at 4:20 of the first round. “Phil Baroni usually comes out with guns blazing but he changed up his style a bit because he’s training at AKA,” Tavares said.
Diego Nunes (16-1) eked out a split decision victory over former WEC featherweight champion Mike Brown (23-7) after three rounds. Brown opened up quick and had Nunes the recipient of a ground and pound but was unable to finish the job. “This is a great win. Of course I’m a little sore but it’s great to fight Mike Brown and great to be in the UFC,” Nunes said. “I’ve never had anything in my life and now I’m fighting on the biggest stage and I can only thank God.”
Daniel Roberts (12-1) used a Kimura hold on Greg Soto (8-2) to force a submission at 3:25 of the first round in a fast-pace welterweight clash. “I knew he was giving it to me and that’s my move right there. I just locked it up and I rolled with it. I have a couple of Kimura submissions. I hit it a lot,” Roberts said.
Jacob Volkman (12-2) won a split decision over Antonio Mckee (25-4-2) in a lightweight bout. The fight was fought at a deliberate pace and did not please the fans. “I stuck to my game plan tonight but I didn’t let my hands go,” said Volkman.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV