UFC lightweight Gray Maynard (11-1-1, 1 NC, MMA), who’s now officially number ranked number three with the UFC, will face T.J. Grant (20-5, MMA) who has been stringing W’s together in the lightweight division. By the time Gray gets into face Grant, it’ll have been nearly a year since he last fought.
Maynard is well known for the three battles against Frankie Edgar that have resonated with every MMA fan as some of the best wars inside the Octagon. In Edgar vs. Maynard III, a battle for the lightweight belt at UFC 136, Maynard was finished via KO in the 4th round.
Following the loss, Maynard switched up everything he was doing, beginning with leaving Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas, NV, to train with American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) in San Jose, CA. “The Bully” told MMA Fight Corner on Tuesday night that he is enjoying his new life in Northern California and has found the transition to AKA to be the right fit for him. Additionally, Maynard has made a few trips to Brazil to train with Nova Uniao among the likes of UFC Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo and Interim Bantamweight Champion Renan Barao.
With the Aldo vs. Pettis featherweight title fight announced as official just a day ago, Maynard provided his thoughts on Aldo’s opponent, Anthony Pettis, someone he had wanted to fight before the T.J. Grant bout was agreed upon.
“You know, we haven’t watched Pettis in an actual scrap. The last time was probably Jeremy Stephens and what I take off of that is he don’t like to get hit. He’s a tough kid, he’s slick, but Aldo’s gonna hit him. You know if he can take it, it’ll be a great bout. But if not, I think Aldo, he’s a tough kid and he’ll keep going.
“It’s just hard to tell how good he is off Joe Lauzon and Donald Cerrone, it was just too quick. I don’t judge a guy off of that type of stuff. Of course it’s flashy, good, of course. But I judge it off of three rounds, he gets hit, comes back, keeps going. That’s how you know if it’s going to be a tough fight,” Maynard said.
“Adversity is the key to our sport. That is the whole sport. Throughout the camp, throughout the bout, you’ve got to answer that call,” Maynard continued.
“The kid is flashy, he’s good, but it’s hard for me to judge off the last two. So, we’ll see. Jose Aldo’s a tough kid and he’s gonna hit him. And you know, Aldo hits hard. It’s going to be a fun fight to watch though.”
Maynard added that Ricardo Lamas could be the only fighter in the 145 pound division that could give Aldo a run for his money.
“Lamas looked tough that last fight. He beat a really good kid [Koch], bad. That’d be a good bout. He knows how to take a guy down. He knows how to throw the elbows, ground and pound. Lamas is tough and he’s the bully.”
Back in December, Maynard was set to compete against Joe Lauzon at UFC 155, but a knee injury kept him out of the fight. With the past year to rehabilitate himself, Maynard feels ready to go against anyone in UFC.
At UFC 160 on May 25, Maynard will return to Las Vegas to take on T.J. Grant who’s on a streak of four consecutive wins since dropping to lightweight. Grant has put on grizzly battles against each opponent he’s faced and proved he’s capable of finishing his opponents via submission, or knockout. He holds signature wins over Matt Wiman and Evan Dunham that have propelled his name in the rankings.
“I think he’s a top guy. Not the top guy, but he’s a top guy. I asked for the Pettis bout and they gave me one harder. So I was jumping up for joy.”
Maynard explained he wanted to square off against Pettis since stylistically it would make a competitive fight. But, Gray added the challenge that Grant presents excites him even more so than Pettis.
“Styles, [Pettis] is a good one for me. It’s great name. He likes to have that space and I don’t do that. I asked for him and that didn’t happen. He dropped down. I got TJ Grant who’s on a tear. It’s the type that I get kind of hyped up about.”
With so many fighters switching weight classes as of late, Maynard said that when he tweeted something about dropping to the 145-pound division that he wasn’t entirely serious. However, one fight seemed to interest Gray enough to make the drop to featherweight.
“If there was a bout that was really awesome, like Edgar, that would be great. I would try to do it. I don’t know if I could [make 145],” Maynard said. “The Edgar bout is kind of off as of now. Dana kind of wants him to not get hurt I think.”
Maynard last fought Clay Guida at UFC on FX 4 and earned a split decision win. Guida was highly criticized throughout the bout for avoiding Gray’s power punch by sticking and moving, and not actively engaging Maynard. While some bouts appear as though fighters are going into with a plan to merely win by points instead of trying to win by finishing their opponent, Gray explained that usually that’s not the case.
“I think we’re all trying to do both. I think Clay was trying to just not get hurt to be honest. I hit him pretty hard in round two and after that it was this panic, get me outta here mode. It was a weird fight. I couldn’t believe that at the time that that was going on.”
“You’ve got to win. People gotta understand that we’re going through camps, I mean, it’s half of our paycheck to not win. I mean, you gotta put together a plan. There’s times it’s gonna look to be awesome. There’s times that it’ll look to be slow. Then there’s times that it’ll be okay, but you gotta win. That’s the whole key to sports is win,” Gray stated. “Obviously with a person that’s slow, over, and over, and over again, that kind of hurts them for the sport. But, if you’re going to go out there to do that, it’s going to be a fun fight because you’re trying to beat him. Then you get to the point where alright, well he’s trying to score a point here or there, he’s trying not to lose. He’s not trying to beat the guy, he’s trying not to lose. There’s a big difference.”
“For me it’s just, I hate to lose. If it were a team sport, it’d be a little bit easier. But that’s another man trying to beat me, so I’m trying to kill him. Well, not kill him, but beat him up.”
Maynard will face T.J. Grant at UFC 160 in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. The May 25th event will showcase a heavyweight title fight between Cain Velasquez and Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva in the main event.
Watch the full interview with Gray Maynard below:
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