Before Gray Maynard stepped foot inside the cage against Ross Pearson, he insisted that things would be different this time around. After all, the former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight number one contender had taken several months off to clear the cobwebs, and even moved his training camp to produce better results.
As for the two brutal knockouts that preceded his UFC Fight Night 47 co-main event?
"The Bully" said he was merely "caught," and was expecting to do big things at 155 pounds, starting with a FOX Sports 1 win over the "Real Deal" last Saturday night (Aug. 16, 2014) in Bangor, Maine.
Instead, he was popped, dropped, and stopped in the second stanza.
That means Maynard -- who turns 35 in just a few weeks -- did everything right and was still finished by way of strikes. In fact, all four of his losses have come via knockout or technical knockout and the Brit's bombing marked his third straight.
It may be time to exit stage left.
What's unfortunate about head trauma, is that it does not follow a predictable blueprint. Maynard may feel "fine" when he wakes up tomorrow morning, while some fighters, like TJ Grant, take a knee in practice and spend the next 12 months suffering from headaches and dizziness.
What was equally troubling about Maynard's loss is how easily it was achieved.
Despite a string showing in the opening frame, the former collegiate wrestling standout was unable to keep his hands up as the fight wore on, and went from lightweight "Bully" to sitting duck against a fighter who is not even ranked in the top 15 of their division.
UFC matchmakers need to think long and hard before committing Maynard to another fight.
If they do, I would hope the corresponding athletic commission would start asking some hard questions, because there comes a point in time when fighters have to be saved for themselves. Compounding the problem is the fact that Maynard, who cut his teeth on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 5, has just 17 pro fights.
That's not a tremendous amount, but there are a lot of miles on those tires, statistically speaking.
Maynard (11-4-1, 1 NC) will always have a job in mixed martial arts (MMA), whether he fights or doesn't. He was helping BJ Penn train wrestling as far back as 2005, and would be a valuable asset to any combat sports club looking to beef up its training staff.
As for fighting?
I think last night's performance (results and play-by-play here) tells us everything we need to know about Maynard's future inside the Octagon. If he still has one after this latest knockout loss, it won't be fun to watch. Even if he finds a way to win, in the long term, he'll inevitably lose.