As one of the biggest college towns in the United States, it’s fair to say that the city of Boston has its fair share of “schoolyards.” It’s unlikely, however, that any of them has a “bully” quite like Gray “The Bully” Maynard.
Undefeated in his professional MMA career—the loss against eventual TUF 5 winner Nate Diaz in the tournament semifinals was an exhibition—Maynard is set for the biggest fight of his career at UFC 118, when he meets Kenny Florian at TD Garden in Boston. While Maynard’s list of victims is impressive—he’s the only fighter to defeat current UFC Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar—a win over Florian would be a major step for the Bully, as the winner of the bout will face the winner of the main event, a title rematch between Edgar and former champion BJ Penn.
The former All-American wrestler at Michigan State recently took some time to talk with UltimateFighter.com and Bleacher Report.
So, just for starters, how’s training going?
It’s going great. I’ve had a lot of time, so everything’s good.
What’s the atmosphere been like around the gym? Between your fight and Randy Couture also having his fight that night, with all the talk that’s gone on around that, it’s got to be an interesting time over there.
It’s been good. The gym is nice because training, you don’t deal with that stuff. It’s just cool. You walk in the door and everything’s gone, and you just train. That’s it.
Of course, with Randy’s fight being on this card, and all the outside interest that’s been generating, you’ve got an opportunity to be watched by a lot of people who wouldn’t normally order a UFC pay-per-view or go out to a bar or whatever they’re going to do. How exciting is that for you, or is it something you’re not even thinking about?
Oh yeah, it’s cool, but when we get down to the fight, that’s all I care about. But it’s a cool thing. Never thought about it that way, but I guess that’s cool.
Any added pressure for you fighting the hometown boy?
No, man. The only way that is, is if he can have help from the crowd by them jumping me, but that’s about it. I don’t let the crowd play into anything, and if he does, then either way, I don’t really care. I’m there to fight.
With Kenny, the only fights that he’s lost at lightweight have been his title fights. Does that tell you anything about how “on” you’re going to have to be against him as compared to someone else you’d be fighting?
That’s every fight. You’ve got to be prepared. I look at the guys that I’ve fought and who he has, and I’ve had tougher guys. I think I’m prepared. I think that with him, he knows he has to be on to beat me.
Yeah, good point. I’m telling you that he’s never lost a lightweight fight that wasn’t for the title, and meanwhile, you’ve never lost, period…unless you count the Ultimate Fighter semifinal with Nate Diaz. Do you think of yourself as undefeated, or do you think of yourself as having that one loss?
I don’t want to even go that deep. I couldn’t even tell you that I’m 8-0, 9-0, 10-0. I just know that I’ve got Florian next and I’m going to be prepared. I’m going to go out there and win. That’s all I care about. [Note: He’s 9-0 with a no-contest]
It’s interesting the way that this card has shaped up. There’s a real TUF 5 vibe to it, between you and Joe Lauzon and Nate Diaz and Gabe Ruediger, and BJ fighting in the main event…a bunch of guys from that fifth season.
That was a good year, man. That was a tough show. There were a lot of guys who were good.
Of course, with the way things are set up, if you beat Kenny and BJ wins in the main event, you could wind up fighting the guy who was your coach, the guy who picked you first, the guy you started out as a training partner for. Did you ever think that you might wind up fighting him when you were working with him?
I try not to look that far ahead at the start, but I felt that I was going to be going for a belt, so whoever had it, I didn’t care. That’s who I’m going to fight.
So no preference, then, between BJ and Edgar for who you’d face if you beat Kenny and get the title shot…
No. Whoever’s got the gold around the waist. I’m not going to discriminate with that.
And of course, you have to get through Kenny first. What do you see as the key to doing that?
Florian, he’s got an attack, of course. Just got to make him know that in every area, I’ve got him beat.