No one likes to see a fight end in a draw, particularly when a title is on the line. But for the UFC 125 main event bout between lightweight champion Frankie Edgar (13-1-1) and top contender Gray Maynard (11-0-1, 1 NC), the judges may very well have reached the right conclusion even though they each turned in a different score that led to the draw and allowed Edgar to keep his title.
Obviously Maynard dominated the first round and earned a 10-8 score after hurting Edgar and nearly finishing him. Edgar, though, showed incredible heart and recovered in between rounds to control the second and fourth periods without much debate. In the end, it came down to how the judges viewed rounds three and five, and as the UFC’s official stat tracker FightMetric shows, you could make a logical case for scoring those rounds either way once you take human opinion into account.
My first impression was that Maynard eked out the third and Edgar did just enough in the fifth, and with the extra point for Maynard in round one, I had the fight 47-47. One judge saw it the same, with 48-46 for Edgar and 48-46 for Maynard on the other two scorecards.
Looking at round three, Maynard landed 6 of 22 power shots to the head, versus 6 of 17 for Edgar. Edgar, meanwhile, edged him out with the jab, 10 out of 32 compared with Maynard’s 8 out of 20. The body punches were basically a wash, with a 3-2 edge for the champ, while Edgar received credit for 4 leg kicks to Maynard’s 1. Of course, Maynard did secure a takedown, but Edgar went for a guillotine attempt as the round came to an end. Depending on your point of view, you could favor Edgar for his total striking output and taking away any advantage Maynard hoped to get from the takedown. You could also make the case that Maynard did just a bit more damage on the feet — as we’ve discussed, not all power shots are created equal — and get into the debate of how to score the takedown; Maynard controlled the position initially but didn’t really do anything with it.
Round five was also close, with Edgar landing 8 jabs and 8 power strikes, versus 7 and 6 respectively for Maynard. Neither fighter scored with any of their takedown attempts and they both had three body shots land. Again, a close round however you view it, but Edgar was a bit more active overall.
As you might expect, FightMetric had it 47-47 based on the 10-point scoring system in place, while giving a slight overall edge to Maynard based on total performance.
MMA judges often take a lot of flack, and plenty of times they deserve it. But in this case, the range of scores reflected how truly close the Edgar vs. Maynard rematch turned out to be, and a draw seems like a fair result.
While the judges probably got this one right, I got it completely wrong. I expected a five-round snoozefest. However, both fighters showed a ton of heart, tenacity, and skill. I expected Maynard to control the wrestling, particularly with his size advantage, but Edgar got the better of him with the grappling. And if you told me heading into the fight that Maynard would hold his own in a striking battle with Edgar, I’d probably have called you a moron, yet that’s exactly what happened.
That’s why fights aren’t decided on paper. Maynard’s beatdown of Edgar for the first five minutes was quite a stunning display, but Edgar recovered and looked on his way to taking control. Somehow, though, Maynard made the necessary adjustments after rounds two and five to give himself a chance. In the fifth round, you could see the desperation and desire on the face of each fighter when they ate a combination, knowing that one flurry could well make the difference. It’s been confirmed that WEC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis will still get the next shot at Edgar, but I wouldn’t mind seeing Edgar vs. Maynard III somewhere down the road.