With Pressure to Finish Foes, Does Gray Maynard Fall Prey to Nate Diaz?

Sterling SpiarsAnalyst IJanuary 9, 2010

The year was 2007. The exact date is only known to a small group of UFC employees, and the young, starving fighters who were gunning for those six figures. The fight was to determine the opponent for Manny Gamburyan at The Ultimate Fighter 5 Finale .

The first round of the fight was won by the much bigger and stronger Gray Maynard. Although he didn't necessarily dominate the round, Maynard controlled where the fight took place, and he even split open the forehead of Nate Diaz.

As the second round began, the fight appeared to be on the same track as the first, with Maynard out-wrestling Diaz. Then, Diaz hit the switch, winding up on top.

Maynard had to work fast to get out of this precarious situation, but still a little bit green in the fight world, he wound up in a very tight guillotine.

Diaz went on to win the six figure contract, but now, almost three years later, Maynard has the chance to even the score.

While Diaz was getting the over-hyped publicity that most TUF winners seem to get, the over-shadowed Maynard went back to his gym at Xtreme Couture to work on his flaws, which has really seemed to pay off.

He has improved tremendously in his years with the UFC, particularly with his striking. As a wrestler, he use to shoot in blindly towards the clinch, but now he scores the takedown by setting up the shoot with a mix of combinations.

As of now, in the new decade, Maynard is sitting in the top five as one of the very few contenders left standing in the shadow of the champion, the lightweight kingpin of the world, B.J. Penn.

Despite having a perfect record over some of the division's most accomplished fighters, Maynard still receives flak for his finishing ability, or lack thereof. His last five wins have all ended in a decision, causing some minor concern to those who are trying to promote how much of a test he could be against Penn.

In a neck-to-neck race towards the No. 1 contender's spot, Maynard appears to be losing the battle to fellow lightweight stand-out Frankie Edgar, despite having secured a victory over him in April 2008.

Some would say, this author included, that since the showdown, Edgar has looked more impressive over a set of higher caliber opponents, picking them apart en-route to a clear cut victory while Maynard jockeyed for position against his foes.

Nevertheless, that is a never-ending argument that will undoubtedly go on until one of the men fall from their horse, that is unless Maynard absolutely destroys Diaz with an impressive finish this coming Monday on Ultimate Fight Night 20 .

Maynard has been bullying tough opponents inside the octagon for some time now, and he is so close to the title shot that he can taste it. He knows that if he finishes Diaz in an awe-inspiring fashion, that the UFC big wigs would have no other choice but to give him the title shot.

So that raises the question, with the weight of "can he finish opponents" resting on his shoulders, will Gray Maynard fall into the jiu jitsu spider trap set by Nate Diaz?

Unless Maynard has secretly been training with jiu jitsu masters since his last outing, it appears doubtful that he will score a submission victory, especially over the brown belt of Nate Diaz.

So it appears Maynard's usual regimen of ground-and-pound will be in order this Monday, and, like in most Nate Diaz fights, the crass Stockton fighter will probably receive a healthy dose of it.

While Maynard is raining down those heavy hands, he may have to calm himself in the midst of his blood-lusted kill frenzy. If he doesn't, he may find himself in the deadly clutch of Diaz's versatile submission attack.


"Patience and fortitude conquer all things." Ralph Waldo Emerson