Gray Maynard is still among the top five Lightweight mixed martial arts (MMA) in the world today, especially when he’s on his A game and his stand up is sharp. His fight tonight (Sat., May 25, 2013) against T.J. Grant at UFC 160, which takes place from MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, is a compelling match up for "The Bully."
That's because Grant figures to be tactically limited in dictating where the fight can go, but he is outstanding from his back.
After the conclusion of his trilogy with Frankie Edgar in 2011, Maynard had a disappointing 2012, taking a dreadfully boring five-round decision against the unwilling-to-engage Clay Guida (give Guida a mulligan here – he’s certainly earned it), and then being scratched from his subsequently scheduled bout with Joe Lauzon because of a knee injury.
Grant, meanwhile, has quietly crept up the 155-pound ranks, defeating respectable, but not-quite elite, veterans in his last four wins. This is a big step up in competition for him at Lightweight, but his reliability as a Welterweight makes him almost certain to weather whatever Maynard delivers.
Check out a complete breakdown of the UFC 160 main card Lightweight bout between Gray Maynard vs. T.J. Grant below:
Tactically, this bout is a good test of Maynard’s ability to switch gears at the appropriate time and dictate where the action goes. With his now-solid striking, one has to wonder if he’ll hope to rebound from the Guida bout with a big knockout, especially with the title-shot implications of the bout (another boring decision win might knock the winner out of the running, which is entirely fair).
For Grant, getting into a firefight on the feet with Maynard probably isn’t advisable because "The Bully" is a bigger hitter, better standing and just more developed as a striker. He’ll have to show some more effective output on the feet and force Maynard to make a mistake, otherwise, he’s on a way-one track to a rough loss.
Maynard rarely has to defend against submissions because he’s excellent at stifling people from top position. Willing to make it boring when he needs to take a blow, he’s still physical and taxing once he gets people down even if he’s not doing anything.
Grant’s Brazilian jiu-jitsu is outstanding. He’s always shrimping, moving and hustling for set ups and angles, which means that Maynard will have to be especially aware of controlling Grant’s hips to make sure he isn’t sneaking into something fight-changing, be it a sweep or a submission.
Look for Maynard to feel it out on the feet and see how much Grant can deliver standing. If he can’t counter effectively, Grant will get beat up and battered and be unable to stop the mauling. However, at some point, Grant will probably pull guard or otherwise invite a ground battle, and that’s where it could potential get dangerous.
He’ll score effectively early on the feet and switch gears toward takedowns, top control, and scoring enough points on the ground to take a one-sided and bloody decision win.
Maynard via decision
Remember that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 160 fight card on fight night (May 25, 2013), starting with the Facebook "Prelims," which are scheduled to begin at 6:35 p.m. ET, right on through the FX-televised under card bouts at 8 p.m. ET and then main card pay-per-view (PPV) action, which is slated to begin at 10 p.m. ET.
Jason Probst can be reached at twitter.com/jasonprobst