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Frankie Edgar vs Gray Maynard 3: Perhaps the greatest MMA trilogy that no one is talking about

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The trilogy.

You've had Star Wars, the Godfather, even Robocop! You've also had Shamrock vs. Ortiz, Sylvia vs. Arlovski and Couture vs. Liddell. Next you'll have Edgar vs. Maynard.

Part three.

At one time, most mixed martial arts fans doubted that newly-crowned UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar could generate any pay-per-view buys as an event headliner. His upset win over former 155-pound kingpin BJ Penn at UFC 112: "Invincible" was either downplayed or attributed to a bad decision by the judges.

The New Jersey native, used to the doubting Thomases, gladly rematched "The Prodigy" just four months later at UFC 118 in Boston, shocking the world once again as he soundly beat the Hawaiian in a performance even more dominating than before.

However, in the shadows of his newfound fame and glory was a pugilistic wrestler who held "The Answer" to Edgar's 13-1 record.

That man was Xtreme Couture student Gray Maynard, a NCAA Division One wrestler out of Michigan State and teammate of former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans.

A perfect 10-0 with one No Contest, Maynard established himself as a force at 155-pounds since his professional debut back in 2006. With wins over Denis Siver, Nate Diaz, Roger Huerta, Kenny Florian, Jim Miller and even Edgar, he carried one of the best fight resumes compiled in today's MMA landscape.

"The Bully" has the ability to hit like a truck as seen at UFC 96: "Jackson vs. Jardine," when he busted the nose of top contender Jim Miller while the AMA product had control of Maynard's leg during a takedown attempt. His first and only knockout inside the Octagon came at UFC Fight Night: "Florian vs. Thomas" when he stopped Joe Veres.

In hindsight, Maynard's biggest win is probably the first time he and Edgar fought way back in April of 2008.

It was UFC Fight Night: "Florian vs. Lauzon" in Broomfield, Colorado, and a huge night for the 155-pound division. Of the six televised fights, three of them featured some of the best up-and-coming lightweight fighters. The co-main event featured Frankie Edgar (8-0) against Gray Maynard (3-0 and 1 NC).

For three long rounds, the much larger Maynard used his size and strength to "Bully" Edgar on all three judges' scorecards (30-27). The loss put his meteoric rise on hold while the victor added yet another name to his growing resume.

The UFC respected Edgar's accomplishments enough prior to the Maynard loss to let him continue fighting bigger stars like Hermes Franca and Sean Sherk en route to his UFC 112 title shot against BJ Penn.

Maynard's road was a bit longer and also against very tough opponents like Rich Clementi, Jim Miller, Roger Huerta, Nate Diaz and Kenny Florian.

The road to New Years Day 2011 may have been a different one for both men but as the saying goes, "The cream rises to the top,'' as both Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard would be the ones deciding the fate of the lightweight title.

These two gladiators have cleared out the division to get at each other once again.

UFC 125: "Resolution" was not the promotion's most star-studded affair and the pay-per-view buy rate was estimated at approximately 270,000, which is far below the average of today's standards. However, for the fans savvy enough to invest their money (and eyeballs), they saw one of the best main events of all time.

The opening round was one of the most lopsided in history and reminiscent of the UFC 116 exchange between Shane Carwin and Brock Lesnar. Edgar proved he had the heart of a champion and survived the beating and even came back stronger round after round.

No matter what Maynard did to establish his dominance, he just couldn't seem to stop the never-say-die attitude of Edgar. After five rounds and 25 minutes of war, we were forced to go to the judges scorecards to determine a winner.

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"The judges score this contest 48-46 MAYNARD, 48-46 EDGAR and 47-47, this fight is ruled a draw!"

As Buffer announced those words we saw what each man was feeling. Edgar's camp was happy and cheering while the champion appear disappointed.

Maynard looked like he was robbed and hated the decision.

If you re-watch UFC 104: "Machida vs. Shogun" you will see a similar reaction. Machida seemed like he was convinced he had lost while his camp threw a parade. Rua and his team looked like their hearts were ripped out by the decision.

In a weird kind of way, this trilogy has been the best thing for the careers of both fighters. You have a third fight, more drama, title legitimacy and of course, an even bigger payday.

This third fight could be redemption for Maynard and every ounce of blood, sweat and tears he's poured onto the canvas and in the gym. It's his chance to finally prove that his win on April 2, 2008, was not a fluke or a "one-off."

For Edgar, he gets to silence all the doubters and naysayers (maybe) who tried to tell him he was never good enough or big enough. It's also his chance to place his name up there with BJ Penn as the best lightweight ever.

And finally, a chance to erase all doubt when you say his name and Maynard's in the same sentence.

How about it Maniacs, how much do you love this trilogy? And why aren't more people talking about it?

 

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