I feel like I’ve been here before.
I had this thought because Maynard had just clubbed the champion with a thundering punch, and was following up with more punishment, as Edgar stumbled about the cage like a one-legged man rollerskating on marbles.
And in response to the beating, just as he had earlier this year, Edgar stabilized, fired back, and survived.
Then he went on and took the better part of three rounds from Maynard before stopping him violently in the fourth.
When that stoppage happened, I had another pause for thought:
Did a lesson from January actually cost Gray the title tonight?
You see, the argument in rematches is that you learn your opponent’s tendencies, study tape on him and adjust yourself. You realize where you went wrong as well, and fine-tune your game plan to improve your chances of success.
Going into the rematch with Edgar, there was a lot of talk about Gray gassing himself out trying to finish in the first round of their last fight.
That round, argued by many to be the most one-sided in MMA history for a man to actually survive, saw Maynard slug Edgar to a living death while expending tremendous energy himself.
This time, with Frankie teetering about the cage, Gray elected to play it cool and pick his spots. Unfortunately, he ran out of time in the round, and didn’t come close to doing the fullest amount of damage possible. Over the next few rounds, Edgar rebounded, and Gray still looked too slow—as he did last time.
Should Gray Maynard have pushed harder in round one at UFC 136?
The end result was two first rounds that were overwhelmingly in favour of Gray Maynard, both approached slightly differently, but both in title fights that saw Gray’s opponent walk away with the gold.
One has to wonder if Maynard’s evolution, his learning from pushing too hard the last time and trying to adjust, may have cost him the title.
What if he put it on Frankie like he did last time? Would he have gotten the finish? Would he be champion today?
There’s no way to know, but you can rest assured that such thoughts will fill Gray Maynard’s head while he tries to climb the lightweight ladder once again. And woe be unto the next guy that he has in trouble, because you can expect him to finish with a fury the likes of which few men can withstand.
That was his lesson in Houston.