Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Gray Maynard: A Retrospective in Blankets

Undefeated.  The number one lightweight contender.  The only man to defeat UFC champ Frankie Edgar.  Gray Maynard is all of these things, and aside from a shocking nine-second knockout of some scrub, he’s also the closest thing a human can come to emulating a blanket without actually being made of a cotton/polyester blend.  At UFC 125 on Saturday night, the fighter who embodies falling asleep in a hammock will rematch Edgar with Edgar’s 155-pound title on the line.  What’s in store for the champ?  Well, if you’re a submission ace, Maynard will lay on you.  If you’re a wrestler, Maynard will lay on you.  And if you’re a well-rounded jiu-jitsu black belt and competent striker, Maynard will lay on you.  But there’s more to his technique than just smothering warmth.  Consider: the evolution of Gray Maynard, as told by a variety of blankets.

  • Ultimate Fighter Finale 5, Rob Emerson vs. the Knitted Quilt – Grandmothers spend a lot of time and effort knitting something meant to be functional but ultimately with lots of holes in it – which pretty much describes Maynard’s participation in TUF 5 and his subsequent performance at the finale.  All that time wasted in the TUF House, and for what?  A double-knockout and “no contest” when he tries to slam Emerson?  Classic.
  • UFC Fight Night 11, Joe Veres vs. the Electric Blanket – It took nine seconds for Veres to walk into Maynard’s fist and render himself unconscious.  It took longer for the referee to convince Maynard to stop lying on top of the fallen fighter.  Sadly, it took athletic commission officials only 30 seconds to realize there was an extension cord running from Maynard’s back to an outlet in his corner, so that was the last “electric” performance we’ve seen from him.   
  • UFC Fight Night 13, Frankie Edgar vs. the Down Comforter – When it comes to retaining heat and promoting a restful slumber, a comforter filled with goose feathers tends to beat all.  Such was the case when frenetic up-and-comer Edgar met Maynard in the Octagon back in April, 2008.  Then, Edgar couldn’t resist the comfort, and spent the duration of their bout sipping herbal tea and reading a Danielle Steel novel.  Now, however, with the New Jersey-based fighter focused more on being champ and less on his “Book of the Month” membership, things may play out differently.
  • UFC 96, Jim Miller vs. the Bedspread – Combining warmth and decorative effect, the bedspread is what you leave on your bed when you know your parents are coming over and you don’t want them to think you’re a slob.  For Miller – who thus far has only ever lost to Edgar and Maynard – this translated into a stifled ground game, a decent night’s rest, and Maynard’s family members leaning into the cage to say things like “Nice place you got here” and “Oh, you cleaned up for us.  You shouldn’t have.”
  • UFC Fight Night 20, Nate Diaz vs. the Duvet – In “Fight Club”, Tyler Durden bemoaned the fact that men nowadays know what a duvet is and that it was useless knowledge, so I’m just going to pretend I’m ignorant.  Bottom line: Diaz lost, but just barely, and the fight stunk.
  • UFC 118, Kenny Florian vs. the Slanket – A blanket with sleeves?  For people who live outside, people who live in houses with no heat, and people who live in biblical times, that’s pure genius.  Unfortunately, for people interested in seeing explosive action in MMA bouts, that’s raw suck right there.  Here’s hoping that at UFC 125 Edgar can keep the blanket – and his many forms – at bay.