|ESPN.com: Mixed Martial Arts||[Print without images]|
For five minutes, Gray Maynard looked like the best 155-pound fighter in the world, but he could not extinguish the considerable fire housed within UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar.
Edgar retained his title in a hotly contested draw with Maynard in the UFC 125 "Resolution" headliner on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, weathering a first round in which he was brutalized by nearly 100 power punches from the challenger. Two judges scored it 48-46, one for Maynard and another for Edgar. A third saw it a 47-47 deadlock.
"It was a great fight," Edgar said. "Gray came in hard. S---, I don't know."
That Edgar reached Round 2 was a monumental feat in itself. Clocked by a ringing left hook a little more than a minute into the match, he was on his heels for the remainder of the first round. Maynard appeared close to finishing it on a number of occasions, as he waylaid the champion with a relentless volley of punches, highlighted by a pair of wicked right uppercuts. Miraculously, Edgar stayed alive, even as he teetered on the brink. When asked what he remembered about the first five minutes, he replied, "Not much."
Maynard's pace slowed noticeably in the second round, and Edgar crept back into the fight. His speed, footwork and quick combinations returned, along with a powerful slam that wowed the Sin City crowd. The back-and-forth encounter spilled into round three, as Maynard answered with power punches and a pair of takedowns of his own.
Edgar secured two takedowns in the fourth and threatened his challenger with a standing guillotine choke against the cage. Maynard escaped and pushed the fight into the final round. There, Edgar utilized a variety of strikes -- combinations, jabs and knees to the head and body -- to keep Maynard guessing and the 155-pound belt around his waist. They traded blows at the end of it, providing a fitting finish to a memorable rematch.
"Felt good," Edgar said. "Felt like the first round didn't happen. It was a close fight. What are you going to do?"
Maynard, still unbeaten as a professional, did not feel the draw did his performance justice.
"I kind of punched myself out in the first [round], so [in] round two, I couldn't really go that hard," he said. "But I thought I won one, three and five. Five was a close one, but I think I pushed the pace, and I thought I won. That's what I thought. I thought it was a 10-8 [first round] and then me in the third and me in the fifth."
|Chris Leben's normally staunch chin let him down against Brian Stann.|
Former World Extreme Cagefighting champion Brian Stann put himself on the map at 185 pounds, as he stopped Chris Leben on first-round strikes in the co-main event. The end came 3:37 into Round 1.
"I feel great. I asked for Chris Leben because he is the toughest guy on the UFC roster, and I need to challenge myself," Stann said. "I wanted to fight the best, and I fought the best. That could have happened to either one of us. It just happened to be my night."
Stann brawled with Leben from the clinch early in the bout and survived the experience. Later, he rattled "The Crippler" with a left hook and floored him with a short right. Leben never recovered. Stann smashed Leben with punches to the head and body before polishing off the respected middleweight with a devastating knee to the temple. Referee Josh Rosenthal stepped in after Leben failed to answer a barrage of follow-up punches from the decorated war hero.
The 30-year-old Stann has won four of his past five fights. He became only the second man, UFC middleweight king Anderson Silva being the other, to knock out Leben.
"I'm ecstatic, but, golly, this guy could take some shots," Stann said. "Man, does he hit hard. He hit me with a knee to the body. I had to stay against the cage for 20 seconds to catch my breath."
|Thiago Silva, top, punched his way past a gun-shy Brandon Vera.|
Thiago Silva turned Brandon Vera into his own personal drum set.
Silva took down and grinded on Vera for three rounds, embarrassing the former heavyweight and leaving him with a badly broken nose in a unanimous decision victory. All three judges scored it in Silva's favor: 30-26, 30-27 and 30-27.
In brief exchanges on the feet, Vera held the advantage. However, he could not stay off his back long enough for his stand-up skills to sway the fight in his favor. Silva, an American Top Team-based Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, took down Vera with ease in all three rounds and battered him with ground-and-pound. In Round 3, Silva's dominance had become so clear and complete that he resorted to open-handed slaps and forearm strikes, one of which struck Vera across the face and rearranged his nose.
Vera, a Lloyd Irvin protégé who once fancied himself a title contender in two weight classes, has lost three consecutive fights.
|Dong Hyun Kim, top, had his way with an outgunned Nate Diaz.|
South Korean judoka Dong Hyun Kim remained unbeaten, as he notched a unanimous decision against "The Ultimate Fighter" Season 5 winner Nate Diaz in a featured welterweight duel. All three judges scored it 29-28 for Kim.
Kim controlled Diaz with takedowns and superior grappling. The 29-year-old judo black belt grounded Diaz a minute into the bout, mounted him briefly and slammed a right hand into his forehead. Diaz threatened with an arm bar and attempted leglocks, but Kim had no problems defending.
Rounds 2 and 3 followed a similar pattern, though there was a break in the action with roughly three minutes left in the fight, as Diaz landed what referee Yves Lavigne deemed to be an illegal knee. Clearly winded after the restart, Kim faded late, as Diaz worked from the clinch with punches and knees. His efforts, however, could not erase Kim's considerable work through the first 10 minutes of their encounter.
"I really wanted to stand with him, but the way he was acting in the Octagon, I just wanted to shut him down," Kim said. "That's why I tackled him. That's why it became a grappling match."
Afterward, the undefeated Kim zeroed in on UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre.
"My name is 'Stun Gun,'" he said. "I want GSP."
|Clay Guida, left, never let Takanori Gomi find his groove.|
Clay Guida submitted former Pride Fighting Championships lightweight titleholder Takanori Gomi with a second-round guillotine choke in a featured matchup at 155 pounds. Gomi met his demise 4:27 into Round 2.
Guida all but hypnotized Gomi with unorthodox, borderline obnoxious, head movement throughout their encounter. He landed a well-disguised head kick 3:23 into the first round, followed with a takedown and worked into half guard. Baffled by his foe's strategy, Gomi never found his rhythm.
The Japanese star delivered a clean knee on Guida, but paid for it. The Jackson's Mixed Martial Arts representative responded with another takedown, locked in the guillotine and threatened to mount. Guida tightened the choke, as Gomi rolled into his guard, and coaxed the tapout.
"Just out here having fun," Guida said. "I didn't want to get hit by him. You saw him tag me a couple of times. I'm ugly as it is, and he made me a little uglier, but I feel great."
Brian Knapp is a contributor to Sherdog.com.