How Gray Maynard and Every Lightweight Has Rebounded After Title Fight Failure

Sean SmithAnalyst IJune 13, 2012

How Gray Maynard and Every Lightweight Has Rebounded After Title Fight Failure

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    Only months after their epic trilogy came to an end, Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard are now both trailing Benson Henderson in the battle to be considered the best 155-pound fighter on the planet. However, both fighters will have huge opportunities to bounce back with authority in their next outings.

    After a narrow loss in his first meeting with the current champion, Edgar has been given an immediate rematch and will have a chance to regain his belt in August. Meanwhile, Maynard's next fight will come against fellow lightweight contender Clay Guida in the upcoming weeks.

    In many ways, fighters are defined by the way they respond to defeat. Even Anderson Silva, who is considered by many to be the greatest fight in MMA history, suffered four losses in his career and was able to turn things around and put together the most impressive title run ever.

    Both coming off disappointment in title fights, let's take a look at whether or not history favors Edgar and Maynard with an overview on how past UFC lightweights have bounced back from failure in title fights.

Caol Uno

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                   Title Fights

                        Next Fights

    Lost against Jens Pulver at UFC 30

    Won against Fabiano Iha at UFC 32

    Draw against B.J. Penn at UFC 41

    Lost against Hermes Franca at UFC 44


    After defending his Shooto belt with a knockout of Rumina Sato, Caol Uno was invited to compete in a UFC title fight against Jens Pulver. Uno took Pulver the distance, but the Japanese fighter came up short on the scorecards.

    Despite the loss, Uno came back to win three of his next four fights, with only loss during that time coming against B.J. Penn, who he would earn a rematch and title shot against in February 2003. In his second meeting with Penn, Uno endured a beating, but he forced a draw on the scorecards, which left the then-vacant lightweight title without a new owner.

    Following his draw with Penn, Uno lost to Hermes Franca and was released from the UFC. Uno returned to the UFC in 2009, but he was unable to pick up a win in three appearances, resulting in his second exit from the organization.

Dennis Hallman

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                    Title Fight

                         Next Fight

    Lost against Jens Pulver at UFC 33

    Lost against Amaury Bitetti at Shogun 1


    An eight-fight winning streak, which included a submission of Matt Hughes, earned Dennis Hallman a title shot against Jens Pulver in September 2001. While Hallman was able to last five rounds with the lightweight champion, he was on the losing side of the scorecards.

    After losing to Pulver, Hallman left the UFC for more than two years and lost a split decision against Amaury Bitetti. When he finally returned to the Octagon, Hallman suffered a knockout loss to Frank Trigg. The loss to Trigg left Hallman bouncing around with smaller organizations before failing at another attempt to break into the UFC against Jorge Rivera.

    Only recently, Hallman has been able to compete in consecutive fights with the UFC for the first time in his long career. Hallman has won three of his past four fights, but the 36-year-old is still nowhere near returning to title contention.

B.J. Penn

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                    Title Fights

                        Next Fights

    Lost against Jens Pulver at UFC 35

    Won against Paul Creighton at UFC 37

    Draw against Caol Uno at UFC 41

    Won against Takanori Gomi at ROTR 4

    Lost against Frankie Edgar at UFC 112

    Lost against Frankie Edgar at UFC 118

    Lost against Frankie Edgar at UFC 118

    Won against Matt Hughes at UFC 123


    Considered by many the best lightweight in MMA history, B.J. Penn's first title fight came only four fights into his illustrious career. Though he came up short on the scorecards against then-champion Jens Pulver, it took a young Penn only two fights to return to a lightweight title fight, as Pulver was soon stripped of his title due to a contract dispute

    In his second attempt at UFC gold, Penn fought to a draw with Caol Uno. After leaving the UFC shortly after his fight against Uno, Penn would eventually return and go on an impressive title run, but that streak of title defenses was eventually put to a stop in a controversial decision against Frankie Edgar in April 2010.

    The arguable outcome led to an immediate rematch against Edgar, but Penn came up short once again and was forced to make a return to the welterweight division, where he defeated Matt Hughes in a rubber match before entering a temporary retirement, from which he will return against Rory MacDonald in September.

    In addition to his lightweight success, Penn competed in three welterweight title fights, of which he won one against Matt Hughes. Penn rebounded with lightweight victories following the losses in his other two championship bouts in the 170-pound division.

Kenny Florian

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                   Title Fights

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    Lost against Sean Sherk at UFC 64

    Won against Dokonjonosuke Mishima at UFC Fight Night 9

    Lost against B.J. Penn at UFC 101

    Won against Clay Guida at UFC 107


    Not long after coming in second place as a middleweight in TUF's first season, Kenny Florian had dropped to lightweight and earned a shot at the vacant title. However, Florian was unable to defeat Sean Sherk in October 2006, which set the stage for a career of continually coming just short of reaching the top.

    After losing to Sherk, Florian bounced back strong and won six straight fights to earn another title shot. Again, though, Florian was unable to become champion, as he was submitted by B.J. Penn in the fourth round of their fight. 

    Following his loss to Penn, Florian won back-to-back fights and came one win short of earning a third title shot by losing to Gray Maynard. However, a drop to the featherweight division quickly gave Florian the chance to compete in one final title fight, which he lost against Jose Aldo.

Hermes Franca

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                   Title Fight                           Next Fight
    Lost against Sean Sherk at UFC 73 Lost against Frankie Edgar at UFC Fight Night 14


    While Frank Edgar and Gray Maynard have to be disappointed with their recent losses, they can feel safe knowing that it would take quite some effort for them to fall as hard as Hermes Franca did after losing in a title fight against Sean Sherk in July 2007.

    Following his loss against Sherk, Frank lost five of his next six fights. That was far from Franca's lowest point, though. Recently, Franca pled guilty of attempted rape and is currently serving a three-and-a-half year sentence in jail.

Joe Stevenson

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                  Title Fight                   Next Fight
    Lost against B.J. Penn at UFC 80 Won against Gleison Tibau at UFC 86


    With four straight wins, Joe Stevenson earned a title shot against B.J. Penn in January 2008. However, Stevenson was dominated by Penn and forced to tap due to a rear-naked choke late in the second round.

    After losing it to Penn, it initially looked like Stevenson would maintain his role as a top lightweight, as he bounced back with a submission win of his own against Gleison Tibau. However, Stevenson's career spiraled downward shortly after that win.

    Following his win over Tibau, Stevenson lost six of eight fights and has since been released from the UFC. Stevenson is now signed to fight under the newly minted Ressurection Fighting Alliance banner later this month.

Sean Sherk

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                 Title Fight                 Next Fight
    Lost against B.J. Penn at UFC 84 Won against Tyson Griffin at UFC 90


    Sean Sherk is still on the UFC roster, which is more than the past couple title challengers on this list can say, but serious injury problems kept him from returning to the title picture and have significantly shortened the career of 38-year-old, who does hope to return to the Octagon eventually.

    After losing to B.J. Penn in a fight to reclaim the lightweight title he had been stripped of due to a failed drug test, Sherk defeated Tyson Griffin before suffering another loss to eventual champion Frankie Edgar. 

    In the three years that have passed since his fight with Edgar, Sherk has competed just once, defeating Evan Dunham in a controversial decision.

Diego Sanchez

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                    Title Fight                    Next Fight
    Lost against B.J. Penn at UFC 107 Lost against John Hathaway at UFC 114


    After moving to lightweight in February 2009, it took Diego Sanchez only two fights to separate himself as the division's top contender.

    With that distinction, Sanchez earned himself a fight with then-lightweight champion B.J. Penn, who was able to outstrike Sanchez at will en route to a rare fifth-round stoppage.

    The loss to Penn led Sanchez to a move back to the welterweight division, where he won two of four fights. Now, Sanchez is expected to return to the lightweight division for his next fight.

Gray Maynard

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                     Title Fights                   Next Fights
    Draw against Frankie Edgar at UFC 125 Lost against Frankie Edgar at UFC 136
    Lost against Frankie Edgar at UFC 136 TBD


    Gray Maynard headed into his first title fight against Frankie Edgar already owning a win over the champion. Early in the fight, it appeared Maynard would be able to beat Edgar a second time and take the belt, as he had the champion rocked multiple times.

    However, Edgar rallied well and retained his title in a controversial draw. The close decision resulted in an immediate rematch, which Edgar won more decisively by knocking Maynard out in the fourth round. 

    In less than two weeks, Maynard will attempt to bounce back strong and fight his way back into the title picture against Clay Guida.

Frankie Edgar

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                       Title Fight Next Fight
    Lost against Benson Henderson at UFC 144     TBD


    After having to fight both B.J. Penn and Gray Maynard twice consecutively, Frankie Edgar earned the chance to regain the lightweight title after suffering a narrow decision loss against Benson Henderson in February.

    In his title fights against Penn and Maynard, Frankie Edgar performed better the second time he fought both opponents. Edgar will need to do the same against Henderson if he wants to return to the top of the lightweight division and avoid being proven wrong by many who believe he should move to the featherweight division.

    Edgar's chance to avenge his loss against Henderson will come at UFC 150, which will take place this August at Denver's Pepsi Center.